What should the summit do?

Brussels European Council, 16-17 June 2005 (picture European Commission)

Opinions fly around about the European Council meeting later this week, even among people who are normally on the same side in the debate about Europe.

Should the ratification process continue, despite the two No votes? Or should it be abandoned? If abandoned, something else must be done instead, because no-one wants to condemn Europe to the Nice treaty. After all, the reasons why the European constitution was needed – to make the EU more democratic, more effective and more accountable – have not gone away. The need is still there.

In that light, the rejection of the constitution looks in some senses rather perverse. For example, the French No voters, apparently concerned about French influence in the enlarged EU, have voted to retain the distribution of votes in the Council of Ministers specified in the Nice treaty (in which France counts for 29 votes out of 321, or 9 per cent of the total) rather than the simpler double majority system in the constitution (in which France represents 13 per cent of the EU population). The constitution would have given France more voting power, not less, but that is not what the French people voted for. Furthermore, Dutch No voters, notwithstanding their concerns about EU spending, voted to retain a system where 50 per cent of the EU budget is subject to no parliamentary scrutiny, neither European nor national. The constitution would have increased the powers of the European Parliament in this important area, but it was not to be.

So, let’s hope that the European Council can keep going with progress towards democracy in the European Union. I have written already that I think that the current constitution is dead and ought to be given a decent burial. I can’t imagine it being ratified now. In its place, we need the route to something better.

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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