May 31, 2005

Contagion Effect

"A risk of contagion". Next stop:

Dutch supporters of the European Union constitution conceded on Monday they were fighting a losing battle, saying it was all but certain that Sunday's No vote in France would be mirrored in a referendum in the Netherlands on Wednesday.

Michiel van Hulten, a former European parliamentarian who heads Better Europe, a foundation established by Dutch politicians to mastermind the Yes campaign, told the Financial Times: “Realistically it is very likely that the Dutch will now vote No.

“It had been clear for some days that we needed a positive vote in France to boost the Yes vote here. Now a lot of Yes supporters will feel that it no longer makes sense to vote at all, while the No campaign will feel emboldened.”

Pollster Maurice de Hond echoed that view, suggesting that the French result could trigger a landslide No in the Netherlands. A second No vote from one of the EU's founding members would put the treaty beyond resurrection and plunge the 25-nation bloc into a massive crisis of confidence, EU leaders believe.

I think we're already there; but a second no certainly won't help.

Posted by Gregory at May 31, 2005 04:38 AM | TrackBack (5)

But what if NO EU constitution is better than a 500 page monster that only helps the elite?

The EU is not broken in a way this constitution would fix.

Posted by: Tom Grey - Liberty Dad at May 31, 2005 09:26 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

This isn't "contagion." This is simply logic triumphing over the chimeras of the EU elite. THe logic here is obvious to anyone but the ENArques and other clueless, arrogant EU fantasists: Europe cannot seriously challenge the capitalist hyperpower without becoming much more like the capitalist hyperpower. The people get it; the elites don't. And these people quite sensibly prefer social protection to gloire and grandeur.

Here's another all-too-obvious fact of the post-1992 EU: expansion = weakness. Dilution of the social nature of the EU's distinct identity. Isn't it f***ing obvious to anyone who's had even a glancing acquaintance with economics that no true integration can occur between two economic models, one based on high wages enabled by heavy protection and inflexibility, the other based on low wages, deregulation, flexibility and super-low taxes (FLAT taxes, for chrissakes)?

The logic is inescapable. The EU can have extensive social protection or dynamic growth but not both. It can be coherent or large but not both.

The people have shown more basic political sense than their betters. Let's hope that 2005 = 1968 in long term significance and starts France on the road to a politics based on ideas competing in a real marketplace instead of the despotism of shortsighted, foolish little ENArque and Science Po geeks.

btw, nice to see the internet coming of age in France. The tyranny of Le Monde and the other official press organs is about to end. Good riddance.

Posted by: thibaud at May 31, 2005 05:50 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink


The rejection of the EU constitution by the French electorate means that the EUssr is kaput - Thank God!

This is an important detour OFF the road to serfdom, and perhaps the first step on the road to reform.

And the much needed and long overdue reforms will now occur exactly where they must: on the national front, not on the continental front.

Only after each of the nations of Old Europe reform can they realistically restart the federalization process again; IOW, the socialistic welfare states of Europe must reform FIRST, BEFORE any transnational/federal EU can be brought into existence. Then they will have an EUnion instead of the EUssr.

This may happen sooner than you think: Germany and France will elect Reaganesque/Thatcherite PM's who will dismantle their nation's welfare states - Germany will elect Merkel this fall, and France will elect Sarkozy in a couple of years.

After France and Germany REFORM - and become more Anglo-American in their policies - their economies will rebound and their people will not be so frightened by pan-European federalism. The a EU constitution would likely succeed.

Ironically, the reform policies which Reagan and Thatcher enacted, (which worked so well, and still work so well) - policies which are derided by the anti-Americans of Old Europe as crass Anglo-Americanism - were actually developed by a European - HAYEK! Perhaps if they were "sold" that way, the Old Europeans might follow them more enthusiastically!

Posted by: reliapundit at May 31, 2005 06:40 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I read in a related article this morning (sorry, I don't have a link) is that in Holland the vote is only advisory in nature; their government has stated that it would take a 30% or higher voter turnout, and at least 55% against the constitution for them to consider it a "no".

Posted by: exhelodrvr at May 31, 2005 06:46 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Ain't gonna happen, reliapundit. Look at who now leads the French: you can't ask for a more vivid symbol of ENArquiste arrogance and economic cluelessness than that pompous ass Villepin.

Note that close to one third of the French electorate is either the rabidly anti-US far left or the rabidly anti-US far right. And the swing vote in this referendum belonged to the anti-globo left wing of the Socialist Party. It's pretty obvious that the only way Villepin can have any popularity at all is to play the anti-US card, again and again, with as much force as he can muster.

Posted by: thibaud at May 31, 2005 07:22 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

The EU Constitution rejection was warranted. The document and the EU hurt ordinary people, not by guaranteeing a welfare state but by stagnant corporate cronyism which is the heart of the problem with Europe.

More or less social welfare spending and more or less military spending is a legit issue for each nation; as long as that country generates enough wealth to siphon off for government spending. When it doesn't (too many people aren't working because of a stagnant/depressed economy) then there are problems. That's the heart of the issue throughout Europe.

The problem is not that French employers cannot fire people at will, or wages are not at Polish or Turkish levels, but that new jobs are not being created to employ the people in France and leverage the highly educated, skilled workforce and world-class infrastructure that marks successful economies regardless of social welfare spending (Singapore, Finland, Sweden, the US, the UK, South Korea are all very different but generally have these characteristics).

Corporate Cronyism through elite control and involvement of both government and giant crony corporations stifle out innovation of small companies (think I Robot's Roomba, Nokia, Erricson, early Microsoft) that produce the biggest job gains. This cronyism also tends to produce risk-averse, profit taking (instead of re-investment for bigger potential gains) and hence a stagnant or low-growth economy regardless of social spending or politics. Think Japan at it's worst.

The EU is one giant recipe for this crony capitalism and hence a wise choice for French and Dutch rejection. There is nothing wrong with expensive labor as long as it produces innovation and value, Brussels seems intent on smothering that innovation out of existence.

Posted by: Jim Rockford at June 1, 2005 02:04 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I think Europe and the US owe great thanks to the French. The proposed Constitution was such in name only. In fact, it was an enormously complex document that purported to deal with the breadth of European human existance at a level of specificity and detail that would inevitably render the exercise obsolete as the various European societies continued their evolution. The genius of our own Constitution is its simplicity and generality, characteristics that have allowed it to evolve with our society.

The French are certainly idiosyncratic but they are not fools. I believe that French leaders understand that the French economy will ultimately have to adapt to the competition from the other European countries, particularly those new entrants into the EU. This might occur by maintaining technical leadership and it might occur by gradual changes in the social structure, or most likely, a combination of the two. However, it won't occur by locking all of the EU economies into a bureaucratic nightmare ruled by faceless and nameless and ultimately unaccountable bureaucrats in Brussels.

I have consistently felt that the idea of an EU Constitution was silly at best. EU economic integration is proceeding of its own momentum and there exists widespread agreement as to standards for human rights and individual dignity. Germany and France will ultimately deal with their employment problems although there may be some turmoil. Does all of this have to be enshrined into a cumbersome document that is likely to act like a sea anchor on progress in these areas?

My guess is that the English are relieved and we should be too. Perhaps we can call pomme frites French Fries again.


Posted by: Michael Pecherer at June 1, 2005 03:22 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink
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