Monday, May 30, 2005

EU Constitution: Non Means Oui, Says EU Chief

In the wake of France's firm rejection of the draft constitution, European politicians are drawing conclusions pretty much as they see fit. Very few and very quiet are the voices that conclude, simply, that the French rejected the consitution because they did not feel it was right for France.

Ludicrous extremes of wishful thinking and spin-doctor tomfoolery come from Jean-Claude Juncker, PM of Luxembourg and current holder of the revolving presidency.

"If we were to add up all the votes of those who wanted ‘more Europe’ as a yes then I think that we would have had a yes vote", said Juncker.

He is also saying that because opposition to the document was so widespread, and because it contains so many discrete criticisms, it is "impossible" to renegotiate the document.

"The Treaty is not dead. Although I have to admit it has not been able to show its full strength tonight", said Mr Juncker. "The process of ratification must continue in the other countries."

On the one hand, it is only right that other countries' voters should give their verdict on the document. But having done so, the most serious efforts should then be made to accommodate their views, in the way that EU institutions and system are evolved. "Ratification" of the rejected document as it stands is clearly not an approach that is going to fly, and Juncker is foolish to pretend that it might.

To say, as Juncker does, that the document cannot be rewritten because of the number and complexity of objections to it can never be a tenable position!

At the risk of sounding patronising, Jean-Claude Juncker has not really grasped this point, nor the wider point that voters should not be made to feel excluded from discussions about the future of the EU. Until Juncker, and the political class he adorns, do grasp that point, they will never gain the democratic support their plans require to be legitimised.

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