April 22, 2004


Blair throws EU into a spin (John Vinocur, International Herald Tribune, 22/04/04)

With the promise of a yes-or-no choice for British voters on a new European Union constitution, Tony Blair has pushed the EU to a new level of unclarity about its future as a unified force. The message got through in Paris and Berlin.

On Wednesday, the lead headline in Handelsblatt, the German financial newspaper said, "EU Constitution Threatened with K.O." Le Figaro seized the point, too. "Europe Taken Hostage, Draft Text in Peril," it said.

An article accompanying the French newspaper's headline suggested that Blair, plotting his own election strategy for a third term, might be sealing both the end of an integrationist vision of a United Europe while setting himself up as the EU's only major leader democratically daring enough to throw the institution's future to his country's voters...

All in all, to Europe's legislative foot soldiers and civil servants, there appeared to be no immediately graspable way out of a predicament that had its base in a seemingly democratic decision by Blair that Matthias Wittmann, the Christian Democratic chairman of the Bundestag's Europe Commission, called an election "trick." Jean-Bourlanges, a French centrist member of the European Parliament, complained Blair risked "steering Europe into an institutional impasse." Another European legislator, Klaus Häänsch, a German Social Democrat, insisted that the logical consequence of a British rejection of the constitution should be British exclusion from the EU. And in a response that fit into the classic EU world of making an exception to get around another exception, the chairman of the Parliament's conservative grouping, Hans-Gert Pööttering, a German Christian Democrat, pointed to using a clause in the constitutional draft that would allow some movement without total ratification by the member states.

Maybe they could just get the European Court of Justice to rule that democracy violates human rights.

Posted by Peter Burnet at April 22, 2004 2:03 PM

I read the provisional Iraqi constitution; brief, clear, with some subtle structural safeguards.

I managed to scan a bit of the the 200+ page proposed EU constitution; a bigger monstrosity of authoriship-by-committee and contradictory positive guarentees can scarely be imagined. Anti-EU campaigners in Britian should give copies out on streetcorners.

Posted by: mike earl at April 22, 2004 3:50 PM

"seemingly democratic"?

Posted by: oj at April 22, 2004 4:26 PM

Britain should give the EU the single digit salute and join NAFTA.

Posted by: Jeff Guinn at April 22, 2004 6:31 PM