June 02, 2005

Europe in Turmoil as the Dutch Vote No

So headlines the relatively sober FT.


The humiliating Dutch No vote on the constitution kicked off a bout of political masochism among European leaders on Wednesday night, who insisted that other countries should continue voting on the treaty.

Jean-Claude Juncker, prime minister of Luxembourg, holder of the rotating EU presidency, led a chorus of demands that the overwhelming rejection of the treaty by France and the Netherlands should not stop the process.

ìWe want the other member states to have the opportunity to tackle the same debate,î he said.

The official line was trotted out across Europe's capitals. Gerhard Schrˆder, German chancellor, said: ìI am convinced the ratification must continue.î Meanwhile Jacques Chirac, French president, seemed keen for other leaders to share his pain, pointing out that 14 countries had still not given their verdict on the constitution.

ìWhile 11 countries have already come to a decision, it is the responsibility of all the other member states of the Union to have their say,î Mr Chirac's office said.

They just don't get it, do they?

Posted by Gregory at June 2, 2005 02:17 AM | TrackBack (0)

They just don't get it, do they?

Oh, they get it, all right. They just don't like it, and are either stalling for time to come up with a "Plan B," or are simply waiting for the right moment to implement it regardless of public opinion.

Posted by: Scott Crawford at June 2, 2005 03:32 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Some of the other European states would probably like a say, actually. Latvia and Slovenia approved the same constitution the French disdained, after all, because approval signified to them a highly desirable political connection to the West and insurance against either isolation or a renewal of pressure from the East.

But I'd agree that it would only make sense to have the British vote on the Constitution if almost every other European country had already ratified it. If the EU does finally get a constitution it won't be this one, and there doesn't seem much point to risking damage to the idea of a constitution eventually by continuing to whip a horse than has broken down.

Posted by: JEB at June 2, 2005 03:39 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Maybe someone could enlighten me, but why does the right rejoice in the EU's constitutional hiccups? Other than the cheap anti-Chirac shots, why do people think a fractured Europe is going to ASSIST America? It seems like the people most opposed to the most recent constitution were the extreme leftists and rightists, the people that most HATE America. I think you could easily frame the defeat of the constitution as yet ONE MORE blow to WESTERN civilization. That's not to say that I'm upset about the result, but I'm on the LEFT.

Posted by: cynical joe at June 2, 2005 10:03 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink


Well, right now some countries in Europe like and help America (Italy, Netherlands, UK and the Easties) and others hate and oppose (France, Germany, Belgium). If Europe is united under Franco-German leadership (which is the whole point of the EU), then those countries inclined to support the US will be less able to help us out. Thus, the further integration of Europe is against American interests.

That said, I happen to think that free trade, and even free movement of labor are good things - and I think the EU should work on improving the union on that level for a while. If the PEOPLE of Europe truly do want to unite, I'd support it, but it won't happen through this an abortion of a "constitution". It will happen slowly be accretion. Any organization that produces a 400 page constitution which includes specfic Maltese Property Law provisions should not be allowed to manage a lemonade stand.

Posted by: holdfast at June 3, 2005 03:44 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

The hegemony of America is not going to fall to a United Europe. The hegemony of America will ultimately be ended by the rise of China. Apart from what is best for Europeans, (which everyone on the right seems to have no small opinion of) American SELF-INTEREST seems to lie in an alliance with Europe (yes, even if it is French-German controlled) to balance against the new Chinese hegemon.

Posted by: cynical joe at June 3, 2005 05:04 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Actually I'd argue that American self-interest also lies in an alliance with India. Don't forget India when you discuss a rising China.

That said, "They just don't get it?"

I have to say, WTF.

So the Dutch and the French voted no. Other countries deserve a voice, other countries might have a difference of opinion and other countries have obviously decided that this constitution is desireable for them. Unless you are talking about French and Dutch politicians only, I don't really see where that is coming from.

Posted by: MNPundit at June 3, 2005 07:53 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Cyncial Joe:

Glad to see someone else is as mystified as I am by the reaction of pro-Bush Americans to the French and Dutch results:


And if you check the comments here in BD to three previous posts -- 1) The Day After the NON: Some Initial Takes, 2) C'est "NON" and the PRE-piece, 3) Why The Likely "NON" -- you'll see that I made the same general points that you did.

In this context, I'd be interested in hearing your take on the comments I made to Greg's piece -- Berman's Bases: Blast Proof Barracks Bad? -- re Bush's GENERAL failure to confront political Islam, and the invasion of Iraq as a diversion -- basically aimed at Americans -- to take attention away from what I consider a deeply cowardly position -- one which, if the Democrats weren't so lacking in both principle AND balls, they COULD have done something about during the 2004 election.

More generally, I'd also like to hear your response to the GrokYourWorld blog ... it shares a concern for many of the issues Gregory does here, but has a slightly different set of analytic and normative orientations ...


Otherwise, I think your take on China as the most likely challenge to US hegemony is totally on the mark, altho I think it's going to take a while for the precise dimensions and dynamics of that US / China rivalry to emerge clearly.

Posted by: Grok Your World.com at June 4, 2005 06:42 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

they just don't get it? the job of EU officers such as juncker is simply to make sure that the process continues.

the fact that some member states might reject the ratification is foreseen in the EU constitution ratification procedure; if 4/5 of the member states do not ratify then a consultation should take place, or something like that.

so why should the ratification procedure not go forward?

10 countries, including austria, germany, italy and spain have ratified, either by referendum or by parliamentary vote (in italy for instance you may not have a referendum on the ratification of an international treaty). the opinion of these countries is not irrelevant. the opinion of the eastern european countries which may ratify in the next future, neither.

so why the ratification process should not continue?

halting the process would simply mean that france has a veto power on the process itself, or on any meaningful decision in the union, and this is certainly something which the other countries will not accept.

Posted by: zuavo at June 6, 2005 10:45 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

A few observations:

Who says rejection of the constitution means a fractured Europe or its approval a united one? Europe can stay a relatively united group in many areas without ceding significant amounts of soveriegnty to an unelected and unaccountable bureaucracy. It can also approve the document, fly apart and degenerate into a violent mess. It could easily be argued that the proposed constitution would provide less flexibility to work out compromises on various issues percolating through Europe which different nations and groups see differently.

Maybe it would be socialist or neo-liberal paradise. I doubt either outcome, but we don't know. The main reason the right leaning blogosphere is happy is they believe that the bureaucrats in Brussels would enforce a stifling, heavily regulated welfare state. Those fears may be unfounded, they may be nothing to fear in the first place. But that is a prime reason cynical joe.

As to Gregs comment that they don't get it, Greg seems to be alluding to two things. First, that whatever the other countries do as regards the process, an EU without France and the Netherlands is doomed. And the French and the Dutch are probably not going to change their mind. Second the other nations are not all going to approve it anyway and it has not been that popular in the nations that already approved it. It is quite likely the lack of support will manifest itself in many of those legislators who supported it in the past losing power throughout Europe. Not least Chirac himself. Even those legislatures who supported it did so largely because of a feeling that it was necessary to maintain the relations they need with France, Germany, The Netherlands, etc. If they don't want it then all the little guys will bail soon enough. Greg is right, they just don't get it! This thing was never as popular as intellectuals thought it was and is getting less so with every passing day, week, month and year. I have no idea whether this will be good or bad in the long run for us or Europe, too many variables, but I am not seeing any disaster. Europe has done well enough without it to figure they will survive and nothing in the document seemed to hold out any promise to solve any of the continents major challenges looming ahead.

Posted by: Lance at June 6, 2005 08:59 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

10 countries, including austria, germany, italy and spain have ratified, either by referendum or by parliamentary vote (in italy for instance you may not have a referendum on the ratification of an international treaty).

A modern miracle of disingenuousness.

either by referendum or by parliamentary vote

Exactly how many of those countries decided this by referendum?

One. Spain.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at June 7, 2005 12:17 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink


Exactly. The other nations politicians who voted to ratify will pay at the ballot box which is why Blair is trying to kill this as fast as possible. He may have wanted the treaty but he wants no part of campaigning for it. Good or bad it is a political loser. He sees Schroeder, Chirac and friends falling in the polls and knows what is coming. Europe is no where close to being ready for a unified polity, assuming it is even a good thing.

Posted by: Lance at June 7, 2005 02:52 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

well, i don't mind whether it is a referendum or parliamentary vote. parliaments are elected democratically, you may be surprised, even here in europe. and they have full powers and authorities to do just what they did. in italy the constitution prohibits to have a referendum on such a thing as the ratification of an international treaty which is something which engages the international position and responsibility of the state; therefore you may not want to have an international treaty ratified by the parliament, the responsibility of the state engaged, and then the decision reversed by a people vote.

you may like the idea that european union is an oppressive bureaucratic monster which terrifies the ordinary people and is loved by politicians, but this is just not the reality. i am quite sure that in most countries referendums would end up in approval, even if europe costs a lot. but you may be assured that the prospective of having no union at all is much more frightening.

maybe UK will kill this, as lance says, i don't really mind. UK must at the end take a stance on europe, either in or out. if they decide to stay out, it'll be just fine. after all they are not in the monetary union so i do not see why they should enjoy the benefit of staying in while not having any of the disadvantages which a strong currency such as europe brings, in terms of difficulties to export and the like.

and remember, the french have said that they do not like this constitution, they have not said that they do not want any EU.

Posted by: zuavo at June 8, 2005 12:02 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

apologies: "aa strong currency such as euro", of course.

Posted by: zuavo at June 8, 2005 12:04 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink
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