Thursday, April 14, 2005

Referendum trouble in the EU

George Parker at the FT paints a fairly dismal picture for the future of European unity in the event of a NO from France, or the Netherlands, in their respective European Constitution referendums – this will no doubt generate prolific comment from the people over at EU Referendum

It seems some have forgotten the EU motto - "Unity through diversity"? In the George Parker article EU Referendums a threat to European Unity the Director of the Centre For European Policy Studies (CEPS) is quoted as saying, of a NO vote to the Constitution by France,

"If it means that France does not like liberalisation, that would mean the end of the single market as a liberalising machine,"

"If it means that France does not want to be pushed around as part of an expanding Europe, that would mean goodbye to enlargement."

He believes the immediate result of a No vote would be an attempt by some countries, including France and Germany, to form a "hard core" group, pushing ahead with closer co-operation to build the idea of a "social Europe" with harmonised taxes.
Does the EU really revolve around France, and do the French people really want harmonised taxes? These are arrogant assumptions on the part of the CEPS, and epitimoise the problem of an EU political elite out of touch with the people of EUrope. Daniel Gros has quite clearly forgotten about "Unity through diversity"!

This raises some fundamental issues about the triumph of NON over OUI. Aside from being symptomatic of an EU whose political leaders have lost touch with the citizens (democratic deficit), it also represents a monumental failure to communicate and explain on the part of the EU institutions, (over to you Margot Wallstrom). It seems evident that one of the core problems is that the EU vision, as cherished by founding states like Germany, France, and the Benelux countries, is under threat and they don't like the new more liberal and reformist direction it is taking. That "old" vision, and the people who expound it, have not moved with the times.

In the C21st an EU of 25 nation states is never going to be quite the cosy club it was back in the good old days when there were only six - it is the old and in the way vision of the EU that is creating much of the problem; times are changing and the EU must change with them.

In the meantime Jacques Chirac must be revelling at being the centre of attention, and at his ability to hold the EU to ransom. That said, for some reason he always has an expression on his face that makes him look as if he is suffering at the hands of a proctologist.