...a blog by Richard Flowers

Monday, June 05, 2006

Day 1976: Whatever happened to that European Constitution, then?


A year ago was the day of the Dutch referendum on whether or not they would ratify the new constitution for the European Union. They said "No" or rather "Tegan" which does not just mean a friend of Dr Who but also means Dutch for "Against"!

Since the French had said "Non!" three days earlier this was generally considered to put the tin hat on the constitution, much to the relief of Lord Blairimort who had been looking forward to losing a referendum on the constitution here in the United Kingdom.

Then along came the UK Presidency of the Union and Lord Blairimort promised at the start that he would achieve lots and lots of things, including getting the constitution back on track. By the end of the British Presidency, of course, this did not amount to a hill of beans. Although the hill-of-beans mountain was now to be included in the Common Agricultural Policy since Lord Blairimort had promised to reform that too, so obviously he hadn't.

What has happened since then?

Lord Blairimort seems to want to sit on his hands, whistling and looking the other way in the hope that nobody notices and he can ignore it. The Germans have been busy getting a new Chancellor, Angela Merkle, but she seems to agree with Lord B and wants to put off thinking about it until at least next year.

President Chirac wants to try SALAMI TACTICS and introduce the constitution slice by slice. No one is that keen.

The Austrians, whose presidency of the Union followed Lord Blairimort's total botch up, wanted to have a go at convincing everyone who said "No" that the constitution was super really and please vote "Yes" next time. Everyone was even less keen on that idea and the Austrians were talked out of it.

No one at all wants to start all over again.

Which just means that we are going to have to muddle along with the existing lash up of treaties until the whole job falls over.

So what was actually WRONG with the constitution?

Well, there was some problem about who got how many votes, because the small countries don't want to feel they are being bossed around but the big countries don't want to feel they are being made to foot the bill without a fair say.

And there was a bit of a ruckus about just how free the free trade was to be and how much protectionism there was to be: some people in the UK were under the impression that the whole things was just too European; a lot of people on the continent thought that the constitution was far too American. So that was never going to work out!

But, the main thing seems to have been that it was just far too LONG and BORING.

It was an enormous rulebook for running the continent and all the complicated little things like making sure that everyone's widget duty was cancelled out and that all the maps had remembered to have Wales on them.

What was wanted was a single and simple document that proclaimed the benefits and the basics of the Union: free trade, human rights, world peace, hugs all round. Something that people could read and agree with and vote for, and then worry about making sure that the rulebook was in accordance with THAT.

So maybe we need to do a bit of President Chirac's idea of doing a bit at a time and a bit of starting from scratch: if we get a simple CORE document together that is GOOD and that people AGREE with, then we can start with that.

You could start with:

"We the People …" and fill in from there.

This has been my 100th Diary! It was brought to you by the miracle of random Wikipedia entries.

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