A new kind of debate

Septfontaines kerk, Luxembourg (picture Teunie)

I wrote earlier in the week about the forthcoming referendum in Luxembourg on Sunday. It’s a vote on a constitutional treaty that has been rejected by the voters in France and the Netherlands. Is it conceivable that Luxembourg will sign up to a next stage of European integration leaving behind two of its long-standing partners? I don’t think so.

But if the constitution isn’t going to go ahead, then what’s at stake on Sunday? What will the vote be about?

I think that, ironically, the exit from the scene of the constitutional treaty can actually lead to a purer debate about the future of Europe, based more on the underlying principles of the EU.

A number of the reasons for voting No were based on details of the text, and the fear that the implementation of the constitution would cement them into the EU and make them almost impossible to change. Now that the text is dead, that fear can be put to one side.

The choice of whether to vote Yes or No can be based more on the overall vision of what kind of Europe we want – more integrated, or less – rather than on the detail of individual articles. (A debate about the individual articles will return, but only when we have a new text and that won’t be for a while.)

You can read more about this idea here on EUObserver.com (http://euobserver.com/?aid=19519&rk=1). The vote on Sunday will be more like the debates we have in pubs and meeting rooms and less like the kind of debate that goes on in law faculties and court rooms. In a way, I think that’s a good thing.

This blog entry first appeared on www.yes-campaign.net. The opinions expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of Federal Union or of the Yes campaign.

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