It was not a total surprise that France was going to vote No, and accordingly there have been some debates about the possible consequences.
As I have already indicated, I find the official line that everything should just go on in terms of ratification less than credible, in particular if there is a No in the referendum in the Netherlands on Wednesday as well.
It’s worth noting that the government in London is not lining up with the official line from Brussels at the moment. From his vacation in Italy, Tony Blair is talking about a period of reflection, evidently wants to wait for the Dutch before he goes any further and announces that the Foreign Secretary will make a more official declaration on the possible road ahead next Monday.
The likelihood of them then saying that they wil go ahead with a referendum in the UK in spite of a double No in France and the Netherlands is virtually zero. And then we will have a situation where the UK de facto will withdraw ratification from this constitutional treaty.
And then it is less likely that the European Council on June 16-17 will just repeat the present official line. But we’ll see.
The European Union will now be governed by the Treaty of Nice. That’s perfectly OK for the time being. But at the same time one should start looking into ways in which some of the policy changes in the Constitutional Treaty could be implemented without any treaty changes.
In the linked OpEd piece in the Financial Times from last week, Charles Grant discusses certain of these options.
Particularly in the field of the Common Foreign and Security Policy, it is both desirable and possible to start to move in this direction.
The world needs a stronger European role.