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Monday, May 30, 2005

France finally does something right...

Maybe they did it as a vote against Chirac, maybe they did it to keep eastern Europeans out of France; whatever the reasons, France finally got something right when they said no to the new European constitution. Every European country has to ratify for the constitution to pass.

And at least the French got the chance to cast a vote over there, which is more than Canadians can say these days.

Posted by Andrea Mrozek on May 30, 2005 | Permalink


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While it might be fashionable to ridicule the French these days (the phrase "cheese-eating surrender monkeys" comes to mind), I've heard there are some real differences of opinion between the French people and the French elite. The French people did the right thing in rejecting even more EU bureaucracy, and I hope more European nations find the courage and common sense to say "no" to ever-larger government.

Incidentally, for a really good, honest look at the EU, I would highly recommend Bernard Connolly's "The Rotten Heart of Europe" (The Economist magazine called it 'The equivalent of Apostasy by the Pope's private secretary'). Connolly was a senior Eurocrat who had serious doubts about the enterprise. After he wrote the book he was harrassed by EU officials (he mentions: "night-time visits from [the EU's] little-known Security Service" and "a disciplinary procedure that disregarded all the rules of natural justice") and quickly fired.

Posted by: Grumpy Young Crank | 2005-05-30 10:52:44 AM

The French have finally realized that Chirac has sold them a bill of goods, and placed them on the wrong side of history. Schroeder is in big trouble in Germany, too, for the same reason.

Posted by: NCF TO | 2005-05-30 11:09:12 AM

Financial Post:

"The European Union is poised to shelve its proposed constitution for several years...in the hope that France and possibly the Netherlands will reverse their votes at a later date."

Like herpes, or gay marriage, or the Borg - they just keep coming, again and again, until people are beaten into submission and tired of fighting back.

Posted by: Brian O'Neill | 2005-05-30 3:01:46 PM

Re "Every European country has to ratify for the constitution to pass."

Now they are discussing the possibility of just changing the rules so that only a majority of countries are required to ratify the "treaty". (How can it be a treaty when the French and Germans haven't even surrendered yet???)

Posted by: Brian O'Neill | 2005-05-30 3:12:05 PM


The Daily Telegraph, May 5, 2005

[Website registration required -- So I've kindly "borrowed" it for y'all]

We may have seen it coming, but it is an awesome thing none the less. France, the most communautaire country in the EU, has had enough. Having laid down the principles on which the EU is run - the protectionist industrial policy, the agricultural subsidies, the Gaullist suspicion of America - the French have reviled their own creation. In defiance of a united media, a monolithically pro-Brussels political class and blizzards of propaganda, they have said a resounding Non to the Euro-elites who have governed them for half a century.

It is hard to think of a graver crisis of legitimacy for the EU. If even France, Europe's most loyal daughter, wants no more of the racket, then surely the time has come to go back to the drawing board. If Europe's leaders had an ounce - a gram, rather - of decency, they would accept the verdict and change direction. For this constitution did not merely propose some new extensions of EU power: it restated the entire acquis communautaire: the accumulated pile of EU jurisdiction.

As Yes campaigners kept insisting, a No vote would be a rejection of the entire project. Tout à fait. So let us now see whether they will abide by their own logic. Will they scrap those parts of the constitution that have already been implemented in anticipation of the referendums, notably the creation of an EU foreign ministry, the harmonisation of criminal justice and the incorporation of the Charter of Fundamental Rights? Will they roll back the frontiers of Brussels, allowing the nation-states to assume control over domestic matters? Will they repatriate agriculture, fisheries, energy policy, asylum and immigration, transport, employment law and so on?

One need only state the question to see how implausible it is that any of these things will happen. For the truth is that Brussels has invested too much in this process to allow a little thing like a referendum result to halt it. To be sure, the Euro-elites will make some soothing noises about the need to address voters' concerns; then they will carry on as if nothing had happened. This is, after all, not the first time that they have had to deal with rejection in a national referendum.

On the contrary, almost every Euro-poll has produced a No vote, whether in Ireland, Sweden or Denmark. On any normal measure, the EU has lost the confidence of its citizens. But the project was never meant to be democratic. From the first, the EU's founding fathers understood that it needed to be immune to public opinion. T

he genius of Jean Monnet and Robert Schuman was to design a system in which supreme power was wielded by unelected officials, and in which the peoples were presented with a series of faits accomplis. When, in 1992, they got their first No vote in Denmark's referendum on Maastricht, our masters were too set in their ways to consider respecting the result, and so pushed on regardless. They will do the same thing today.

It would be outrageous if Tony Blair were to display a similar contempt for his own electorate. He has promised, repeatedly and publicly, to allow us a vote regardless of what happened in France. He must stick to that commitment, even if the French Non is followed by a Dutch Nee on Wednesday. There is more at stake here than the Prime Minister's word - which, with the best will in the world, is not worth what it used to be. The bigger reason for a British referendum is that we have not had the opportunity to vote on European integration since 1975.

A great many things have happened since then and, as Mr Blair has pointed out, much of the constitution is taken up with re-affirming those things. The trouble is that we have never been asked about them. Much of the grumpiness that characterises the European debate is the result of our sense that we have been ignored. A British referendum would offer us the chance of catharsis after 30 years of pent-up frustrations. Principled Euro-enthusiasts accept this: they know that they cannot take Britain into a new political dispensation without the approval of the people. Mr Blair must accept it too.

If, as seems sadly likely, the leaders of the EU try to circumvent this result, if they seek to implement large parts of the constitution though the existing treaty structures, if they cancel the scheduled British referendum, if they force the French to vote again, the resulting public anger will be terrible to behold. For decades, the peoples of Europe have been taken for granted on this issue by their leaders. Now, even the French have turned. They may shut their ears in Paris, Brussels and London, but the verdict couldn't be clearer. What part of No don't they understand?

Posted by: Brian O'Neill | 2005-05-30 3:17:49 PM

“Bureaucratic and Undemocratic”
Looks like Pianoman and the Carnivorous Beaver have already beat me to the punch – but since punching Jack Sheer-Ack! feels so damned good, allow me a brief and cathartic gloat at the expense of all the preening EU-lites out there.

Ha-ha! “Rejected, not selected!” In yo’ FACE!

Guess this is what happens when you let democracy creep in and gum up the works. It’s kind of ironic that the Germans had that figured out and didn’t bother with the nuisance of actually consulting the volk on what kind of future they might want. Bet the Danes and the Irish are thinking about staging a(nother) do-over right about now.

And I’ll bet Tony Blair is alternating somewhere between quivering relief, and laughing his pasty, narrow tuckus off.



Jacques who?

Posted by: maz2 | 2005-05-30 7:46:38 PM

You're giving the French too much credit. I'm glad the voted "non" but they did it for the wrong reasons. They were not opposing the beauracratic nightmare that is the EU. They were opposing free-trade and increased capitalism. They were afraid that their sacred welfare state would be in danger. In effect, they were opposing the only good things that the EU has to offer.

My money is on the EU adding more provisions to protect socialist structures to make further integration more attractive for the French. Any way you slice it, it's stinks.

Posted by: Michael Dabioch | 2005-05-30 8:02:53 PM

The real reason that they voted "Non" was because of Article 37, Section 5, Subsection 3.

Posted by: Brian O'Neill | 2005-05-30 10:25:37 PM

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