Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Clause 30 and the process of EU treaty ratification

How about Clause 30 of the Constitutional Treaty signed by all 25 EU member states.

Clause 30: If, two years after the signature of the treaty amending this Treaty, four fifths of the Member States have ratified it and one or more Member States have encountered difficulties in proceeding with ratification, the matter shall be referred to the European Council.
The process of ratification must therefore proceed???

I believe this fits well with the discussions over at A Fistful of Euros where the whole question of "shelving" the Constitutional Treaty is being debated. More @ If the Netherlands votes No

See also the FT editorial
Blair’s moment of destiny on Europe

Britain cannot afford to be the first country unilaterally to say the new treaty is dead without weakening its influence among European governments that often see it as semi-detached. Recent British governments have striven to push the EU towards the flexible and lean organisation necessary in an era of globalisation. If the new treaty is shelved in an acrimonious atmosphere of protectionism, that influence could wane - damaging Britain's interests, as well as Europe's.
Also the FT has another report that states -
The European Union is poised to shelve its proposed constitution for several years after French voters rejected the treaty in a referendum on Sunday. From - EU to put new treaty on ice after French No.
Ratify or put on ice? Is it possible to suspend the ratification process for "several years" and then restart it? Clause 30 is pretty clear on this - all member states must have ratified within 2 years of signing the Treaty.

What a mess! Will De Villepin and Chirac be able to control their dreams of Napoleonic grandeur and help the rest of Europe find a way out of this? Without EU unanimity on the matter it will be more EU gridlock with a good measure of bitter acrimony. If past performance is anything to go by it wouldn't do to be too optimistic.