Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Poll Reveals Reasons for French and Dutch "No"

The EUobserver has an article which refers to two polled surveys concerning why the French and Dutch voters voted No to the EU Constitution.

As we suspected, the actual reasons for the "no" vote had less to do with the EU Constitution or its provisions per se and more to do with reasons one could classify as fears having little to do with whether the EU Constitution was ratified or not:

In the Netherlands here were the reasons given for the "no" vote of "no" voters:
32% Lack of information
19% Loss of national sovereignty
14% Opposes the national government / certain political parties
13% Europe is too expensive
8% I am against Europe / European construction / European integration
7% It will have negative effects on the employment situation in the Netherlands/ relocation of Dutch enterprises/loss of jobs
6% I do not see what is positive in this text
6% The draft goes too far/ advances too quickly
6% Too technocratic / juridical/ too muchregulation
6% Opposition to further enlargemen t
5% Not democratic enough
5% Too complex
5% Economically speaking, the draft is too liberal
5% The economic situation in the Netherlands is too weak/there is too much unemployment in the Netherlands
5% I do not want a European political union/ a European federal State/ the « United States » of Europe
5% Europe is evolving too fast
5% The "Yes"campaign was not convincing enough
5% This constitution is imposed on us

66% thought that a "no" vote would mean renegotiation of the constitution to better defend the interests of the Netherlands

In France

31% voted no because of the fear that the EU Constitution would have a negative effect on employment
26% voted no because they felt that the economic situation in France was bad
62% thought that the "no" vote would mean the constitution would be renegotiated to be more social.

Monday, June 13, 2005

The Future of the EU Constitution

We have been pondering what the EU should do in view of the French and Dutch rejection of the EU Constitution. Rather than viewing the current situation from the position of weakness, the countries that have signed the EU Constitution should view this matter from a position of strength.

The most sensible procedure for ratification is simply to continue the process of ratification - as Latvia has done in ratifying the Constitution in spite of the bad news from Fance and the Netherlands.

Negating countries are to be given a second chance to ratify that same Constitution, but one second chance only.

We have seen few cogent arguments against the Constitution as such. Most of the backlash has been whipped up by fear-mongers, of which there are always many around, and many a man, understanding little about Constitutional Law, is easy prey for this kind of sentiment.

Whether e.g. Turkey should be allowed to join the EU is a political question and not a constitutional one, but the governments in France and the Netherlands were unable to make this clear to their constituents.

We ourselves strongly oppose Turkish memberhip to the EU on religious grounds, as Turkey is primarily a Muslim country, making integration difficult. However, whether the Netherlands (understandably and strongly anti-Muslim due to the Van Gogh murder) or France (with many Muslims in the country from the colonial period) fail to ratify the EU Constitution is irrelevant to the new membership of countries, which is decided by the political leadership of the EU countries, independent of the EU Constitution.

It would however greatly help future EU ratification if negotiations with Turkey for EU membership would be put on indefinite hold. There is simply too much anti-Muslim sentiment at the grass roots in Europe currently to support any planned accession of a primarily Muslim nation to EU membership. It would seem advisable to unite the nations of traditional Europe first - and then see if further expansion is possible.

In any case, those countries that have already ratified the EU Constitution and those that ratify in the future would thereafter remain in the EU as Member States and those countries that did not ratify the Constitution - given two chances for such a ratification - should be excluded from the EU as non-ratifiers. These countries would then have to make special economic treaties with the EU as Norway has done, without, however, having any say in how the European Union is run.

These non-ratifying countries should be made clearly aware that they will be subjected to stiff tariffs for any trade they wanted to do with EU countries (e.g. the agricultural products of the Netherlands or French wines and champagne) and that all subsidies to them by the EU would stop (high agricultural subsidies to France, e.g.), including the cessation of such direct benefits as building the Airbus (in France), etc. All EU institutions should be removed from such on-ratifying countries (e.g. in Strasbourg). In the case of another "non" from France, the importance of the French language in the EU should be reduced considerably and immediately. You can not be profiting culturally and economically from a political and economic alliance on the one side and yet be destroying that alliance on the other side. The EU simply does not need such two-faced member countries.

Faced with such prospects, people would then not vote so irresponsibly in referendums, and the rest of the nations in the EU could get on with the business of adapting Europe sanely to the 21st century. Those that continue to vote "non" would in the future be on their own in this very tough world and would face increasing competition and growing strength from an already very strong multi-country EU.

There is no viable alternative to a European Union in Europe. Those countries that do not see this should suffer the consequences of their bad judgment until they see the light. We enjoy France and the Netherlands as much as anyone, living close to both nations, but there is no reason to excuse a no to the EU Constitution in this - the modern 21st century.

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