Germany’s Angela Merkel says the European constitution is “vital to German interests.” Italy’s Romano Prodi says he interprets the “No” votes as “a demand for more Europe, not less.” Spain insists that its “Yes” vote be allowed to stand. Austria and Finland want ratification to be completed by the end of 2007, and Belgium suggests changing the rules so that this can happen by a majority vote rather than by unanimity.Reading the list of 'luminaries' that are willing to force-feed the 'constitution' it is easy to forget the one party that matters. Or should matter, anyway.
In France, both main presidential candidates are committed to pushing ahead: Nicolas Sarkozy says he wants a “mini-treaty” that will contain all the constitution’s main elements, while Ségolène Royal says that, if Britain has problems with the constitution, the rest of the EU should go ahead without it. Not that the UK is trying to back out: it seems to have agreed in principle to the Sarkozy “mini-treaty” proposal.
Am I forgetting anyone? Oh yes, there is one solitary voice of dissent: that of the ordinary citizen who, whenever invited to express an opinion on the Constitution, keeps rejecting it. Opinion has swung against the constitution over the past two years, both in France and the Netherlands and in those countries whose governments went ahead with ratification – most spectacularly in Germany, where two thirds of people now say they would vote “No”. Not that any of the governments seems to care.The prediction of Brussels Journal is that around 85% of the constitution is being or will be snuck into the EU legislature through the back window, leaving us EU cattle a referendum on matters of such technical and trivial nature it's not worth the bother. Mission complete.
Reading the Brussels Journal piece one tends to come away with a bleak feeling of despair. Yet not everything is Monday morning gray. EU Referendum reported earlier there were signs that the constitution has at long last failed in Germany as well as in the Netherlands and France. Not by popular demand, mind you, but by a brave German MP and a couple of judges.
The German MP, Herr Peter Gauweiler (CSU) asked the Federal Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe to look into the legality of the constitution. The judges doing the reviewing said they would postponed any ruling untill after the fate of the EU constitution was clear, a delay that might well last into 2009, when the German presidency will have come and gone.
But there's another way to rid us of this insane mess of functionaries. Reported yesterday by EU Referendum, there's a member of the House of Lords, Lord Pearson of Rannoch, who has introduced a bill (pdf) requiring the formation of
a Committee of Inquiry into the implications of withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European UnionI personally think this is a brilliant idea. And I would like to suggest to any Dutch readers to write or email their preferred political representative about this idea.
Because in the end it comes down to you. And me. Do we want this crawling ratking of inept burocratic powermongering to rule us? Or do we have the guts to demand the freedom and responsibillity of shaping our own lives? All we have to do is just say no. That's the first step. And when we do, the rest will follow naturally. But first we have to say it.
And mean it.
[UPDATE001] Just when you thought... The EU Parliament, that paragon of people's power, apparently having no pressing matters to attend to (global warming, Iran, Irak, immigration, the imminent collapse of France) came up with a proposal for this brilliant piece of legislature: Selling snacks with packaged toys must be outlawed (NL). Apparently the Labour fraction of the EU Parliament deems parents not capable of dealing with their whining kids and not up to the 'aggressive marketing campaign' by manufacturers of snacks containing toy gifts (like Happy Meals, or crisps with collecting cards, or Kinder chocolate eggs). These sad parents should be helped by the benevolent and omni-present EU. Hence the proposed ban.
I am not even going to comment on this. I'll just re-iterate: They seem to have completely lost it.
[UPDATE002] What do you know? As we here in out wet little corner of the world are trying to make sense of the confusion that were the election results, the Times sees some unexpected light:
No progress will now be made on the European constitution over the next six months. Although both the big parties are in favour, they are not strong enough to overrule the hostility of a nation — the Dutch voted no to a constitutional treaty in their referendum. And the Socialist Party is adamantly against one.Things aren't all bad then, are they?
This is likely to dash the hopes of Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, who will be taking over the EU presidency in January and has committed herself to rapid progress on securing a constitutional treaty.