Europe – What Now?

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With exit polls giving the No side 54,5 % of the vote in France the fate of the Constitutional Treaty is de facto sealed.

We have missed a possibility to create a better functioning European Union with the possibility of a stronger voice in the world and better possibilities of fighting crime in Europe itself.

That is, needless to say, bad. But it’s not the end of neither the European Union nor of Europe. When some prominent voices claim that a No would mean ”the end of the future of Europe” – in this case it was Romano Prodi – it is of course unmitigated rubbish.

Europe goes on. The question is how. There will be the need for a new leadership in a new situation.

The majority in France gave their no because they were dissatisfied with the present and fearful of the future. A substantial part of that clearly had to do with the domestic affairs of France, but a substantial part was also related to Europe as a whole.

They feel lost in a Europe where globalisation and integration is making change the necessity of the day. They evidently feared that their – in my view hopelessly outdated – view of France would be a loser in that Europe. In that sense, they might not have been that wrong.

The immediate result of the vote is obviously a crisis for France. It’s a failure for both President Chirac and for the Socialist Party. There will have to be a serious soul-searching in the political forces of France before they can start to approach these issues again.

In itself, this might not be a bad thing.

In the capitals of Europe, and not the least in Brussels, the question is of course how to proceed with the issue that the French have now voted on – and the Dutch will vote on this Wednesday.

Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker of Luxembourg – holding the European Union presidence at the moment – have said that everything should go on and every country should take its decision on the treaty. A referendum should be held in Luxembourg on July 10.

But this doesn’t make any sense whatsoever.

First there is the very obvious risk that it will be just an accumulation of further negative decisions. Even Luxembourg might well vote No if France and the Netherlands have already done it.

Then it is now clear that this particular text will never enter into any force. The decision of France must be respected. To continue with ratification in different countries is just to prolong the agony.

When the European Council meets in Brussels on June 16 they should close down the process officially. But they should also stick to their previous agreement to meet in November of next year to consider the situation and discuss what to do.

Then the period until then will be a period of further reflection and debate. In the meantime, everything will work in accordance with all the treaties in force.

In the meantime we might see changes in the political landscape of Europe. There will in all probability be a new government in Berlin by this autumn. There might well be a new Prime Minister in London within this period. And shortly thereafter – in March 2007 – there will be a new President in France.

Clearly, the Europe of today can provide the leadership that inspires. But after a debate across the borders in the coming years, there is at the least the possibility that we will get it.

We are entering a new and not uninteresting phase in the evolution of the European Union.

4 kommentarer till Europe – What Now?

  1. Eliasson81 skriver:

    ”We have missed a possibility to create a better functioning European Union with the possibility of a stronger voice in the world and better possibilities of fighting crime in Europe itself.”

    Look at it this way: We will not create a concentration of power so great that nothing can check and balance it.

  2. LaJoMi skriver:

    Publicerat på min blogg: johnjohansson.webblogg.se:

    Frankrike röstade ikväll nej och blev det (första) land som fällde det nya konstitutionsfördraget, till nyliberalerna Dick Erixons och Johan Norbergs stora glädje. Först och främst: grattis till dem! Nu blir inte EU (än) det sociala EU som det hade kunnat blivit med de nya konstitutionen. Den hade varit ett steg på vägen mot ett mer socialt Europa med rättigheter och skyldigheter som folket tjänar på. Nu förblir EU kapitalets EU, en liten stund till.

    Precis som alltid i folkomröstningar behöver inte väljarna motivera sina röster. Därför blir diskussionen om ”varför” fransmännen röstade nej smått patetisk. Om ca 60 % av fransmännen röstade innebär det 25,2 miljoner orsaker till varför varje röst hamnade där den hamnade. Vissa röstade mot fördraget, andra för det. Några röstade mot President Chirac, vissa röstade ja bara för att de gillar honom. Några röstade nej av främlingsfientliga skäl, några ja genom slantsingling. Så är demokratin, och så ska demokratin vara. Och nu blev utfallet ett tydligt nej till det nya fördraget.

    Vad resten av länderna nu säger blir oviktigt, även om det finns skäl att låta processen fortgå. Om samtliga övriga länder (dock knappast Nederländerna) säger ja, bör Frankrike fundera på att antingen hålla en ny folkomröstning om ett par år, eller helt enkelt fundera på att lämna EU. Ett land, hur historiskt viktigt det än, gör ingen sommar. Vill fransmännen inte gå vidare med det de själv startat bör de rimligtvis också ta konsekvenserna.

    Men låt oss nu sluta enbart fokusera på konstitutionen, och istället ta en ordentlig diskussion om vilket Europa vi vill ha. Förmodligen kommer detta också att ske i många föreningar runt om i Europa. Problemet är att det inte utöver detta förs EN central diskussion på europeisk nivå. Ett europeiskt offentligt rum skulle kunna få detta möjligt, med europeiska tidsskrifter, europeiska radio- och tv-kanaler. Men dit är en bra väg kvar, och frågan är om vi ens är på väg dit, och inte precis tvärtom.

    Den enda folkomröstning jag hade kunnat acceptera, vore en alleuropeisk folkomröstning där principen ”en människa, en röst” gäller, oavsett nationalitet. I en sådan hade inte fransmännen behövt ta ställning till om de är för eller emot deras president, utan enbart det de borde ta ställning till, konstitutionsfördraget. Tyvärr lär inte detta ske, utan en ratificiseringsprocess utan syfte lär fortsätta med inskränkta nationella debatter, stängda dörrar och introverta perspektiv. Nationalstaten lever än, humanismen är död. Så blev Frankrike bara landet med liberté, då egalité och fraternité suddades ut, den 29 maj 2005.

  3. Björn Hallberg skriver:

    lajomi: Good point. If you are to create a constitution to include all European countries, it’s not such a bad idea to include ALL of Europe and disregard borders and nation states. It’s a bit of a radical idea, but isn’t that what we’re trying to create here, a United States of Europe of sorts. I guess we all see the project in different light but from my point of view we ARE going to have to give up certain things from the old nation states to create something far grander and more powerful.
    As for the result, I don’t think most people had any idea what they were voting for or against.
    The trick is just, as Eliasson81 notes not to turn that power inwards and abuse the citizens of Europe.

  4. Björn Hallberg skriver:

    Also, who among us has actually read the constitution? I sure haven’t. It’s some 500 pages. Like most of you I focus on my own areas of expertise or interest. And as far who is going to profit from the constitution I have to be realistic and say that it will be the haves rather than the have-nots. The way it has always been.

    Like ”cloning”. Correct me if I’m wrong but the constitution does prohibit the reproductive cloning of human beings, human parts and eugenic practices? That something like this should be taken into account is just mind-boggling. Kind of proves to me that there are other and less charitable reasons and people behind the document.

    ” .. possibilities of fighting crime in Europe ..”

    This alarms me at least. And indicates that we are moving in the wrong direction for the wrong reasons. We don’t want to create a police state. Obviously it’s a good selling point. Who could possibly dare question that. Because questioning that would put you in a position where you’d actually have do defend crime. As I said before, personally I want the EU for bringing the people in Europe closer (in a roundabout way) and turning our combined forces outwards. To compete and stand against the US as an equal in might and legitimacy. Obviously that is also dangerous thinking that could take us on a path to hell but I feel we have no choice.

    Here is something worth reading about the referendum btw which sums up me feeling on the topic:
    Sign and Sight – In full knowledge of the facts

    Quote: To better understand the pseudo-democratic aberration of this referendum, let’s engage in a little political fiction: let’s imagine there will soon be a referendum on reproductive cloning in Europe, and that the citizens should express their views on this controversial topic. To this end, a 500-page textbook on molecular biology is sent to the hundreds of millions of citizens in the expanded European Union. Add to that a dozen treatises either supporting or rejecting the introduction of therapeutic cloning in Europe.

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