EU: Back to the future?
However it is doubtful that holding another referendum a year from now will convince the people to vote yes. The turnout in both France and Netherlands were quite high, at 70 percent in France and more than 60% in the Netherlands, with majority no-votes of 55 percent and close to 62 percent respectively.
So far ten countries have ratified the constitution --- Austria, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Lithuania, Slovakia, Slovenia by votes of their parliaments and Spain and most recently Luxembourg through a referendum.
Other countries have as much called the constitution dead. Britain and Poland have held off their referendum indefinitely. In Britain the sentiment was always strong against the constitution and if the referendum were not held off, it is likely that the people will reject the constitution with a very emphatic no.
Germany and France, the latter despite the no vote by its citizen, insist on driving forward the European project and believe the ratifying process in all countries should continue.
So what is the logic behind the leaders’ initiative and thrust to unite and integrate Europe? And what aspects of that unification that is putting its citizens off?
European leaders see the constitution as instrumental in strengthening European foreign policy. The constitution is meant to stream-line decision making within the Union and create a single foreign minister, a move that is expected to give Europe more power in international affairs.
The people that voted no were concerned about rising unemployment that in their opinion would increase as a result of 1) the EU enlargement and integration of the eastern European countries where wages and taxes are lower; and 2) further liberalizing of trade policy that would increase competition from the new economic powers such as China and India. Other concerns involve security, influx of immigrants and loss of national identity.
At present the EU is in disarray over what steps to take next. The options do not look very promising. One is to revise the treaty—a path many do not want to have to take particularly after the more than 28 months it took to draft and negotiate the current version; the other is that parts of the constitution, those that are already reflected in the various treaties in existence, is adopted by all member states.
The rejection of the constitution and the current political confusion has also resulted in financiers voicing doubts over sustaining a single currency within a zone of varying economic conditions. These doubts and criticism comes at a time when, with its citizens rejecting the constitution, member states not able to agree on the budget, the European Union as their leaders admit, is in a crisis.