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The Rejection of the New European Constitution A Fork in the Road of History?


The Disunited States of Europe? The Rejection of the New European Constitution A Fork in the Road of History? The Rejection of the New European Constitution A Fork in ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: The Rejection of the New European Constitution A Fork in the Road of History?

The Rejection of the New European ConstitutionA
Fork in the Road of History?
The Disunited States of Europe?
A turning point? A Watershed?
French Referendum on the European Constitution
29 May, 2005 Result "Oui" 45.13 - "Non"
54.8 Turnout 69.3
  • the result was a profound shock
  • first "anti-Europe" vote in France since founding
    of EU
  • first time a founder-member had voted against a
    European proposition
  • but shock more to the ruling elite than public or
  • many opinion polls taken leading up to referendum
    all had predicted "Non"
  • Why, then, were politicians surprised?

Was it the Constitution itself?
The Disunited States of Europe?
What was wrong with the Constitution?
  • too long and wordy 450 pages delivered to all
    households in France .
  • uninspiring . first words were "The King of
    Belgium . compare to US Constitution "We the
    People of the United States, "
  • combined elements proper to a constitution with
    many rules governing practical operation of the
    EU 25 countries (could have been put in annexe)
  • in France, President decided on a referendum in
    Germany other countries, Parliament made the

Was it just the document that provoked a "Non"?
No - referendums often used to express discontent
about other matters!! Many people in France and
Holland voted "Non" for other reasons.
The Disunited States of Europe?
Why did did the French vote "Non"?
  • discontent about unemployment c 10 for years
    in age-range 18-25 around 25
  • irritation with leadership fatigue with promises
  • concerns about crime, especially in big cities
    and suburban ghettoes
  • decline in purchasing power inflation since
    adoption of euro
  • relocation of jobs to Asia East Europe
    problems in agriculture fishing
  • high costs and complication of doing business for
    small companies
  • business environment unfavourable for
  • loss of political economic power and influence
    in Europe after enlargement
  • French model is statist, high taxation, high
    central control, high subsidies for farming
    all against prevailing trends feeling of
  • Eastern contries tend to favour the Anglo-Saxon,
    liberalizing model
  • suspicion of "globalization" and "liberalization"
    their association with Anglo-Saxons
  • visceral dislike of the U.S.A. rejection of US
    "cultural swamping"
  • fears that voting "Oui" might accelerate entry of
    Turkey into EU

The Disunited States of Europe?
The French elite - "disconnected" from the people?
Some commentators claim government leaders are
not in tune with ordinary people. This may be
particularly true in France. Many politicians in
high office and much of the upper ranks of the
civil service are graduates from one of three
schools Ecole Polytechnique educates business
elites, including those that fill technology and
management positions Ecole Normale Superieure
graduates include many leading French
The Ecole Nationale d'Administration (ENA)
  • most important school for the political elite -
    the newest, created in 1945
  • academic standards are extremely high
  • at age 25 ENA graduates generally get high
    positions in government, diplomatic service, or
    business and banking
  • most presidents and prime ministers attended the
    ENA, as did many members of the assembly and the
  • Does this make for a narrow, similarity of views,
    a certain arrogance?

The Disunited States of Europe?
Why did the Dutch vote "Non" on 1 July (61.5
against turnout 63.3 )
  • fed up with paying over the odds into the EU
    budget (net contributors)
  • feeling that they have not benefited enough from
    being "good Europeans"
  • serious concerns about immigration
  • growth of large immigrant residential areas
  • assassination in 2002 of Pym Fortuyn, a perceived
    anti-immigration politician who might have
    become Prime Minister
  • murder in 2004 of film director Theo van Gogh by
    a Muslim fundamentalist

The Disunited States of Europe?
Why would the British have voted "Non"?
  • Brussels too remote, arrogant, corrupt
  • bureaucracy excessive too many powers passed to
    Brussels, 80,000 pages of European law etc (myth
    of the curved cucumbers)
  • corruption recent scandals Mme Cresson,
    resignation of Commission of Jacques Santer,
    failure to audit accounts, fees paid for
    attendance at meetings which are not attended
  • profligate "They take our money, but waste a lot
    of it." eg 1 billion currently paid to tobacco
    farmers in Europe - irritation with being net
  • "They make the rules" but don't enforce them
    French ban on British beef, failure to keep to
    3 budget deficit - fishing inspectors ..
  • Hidden Agenda "They want to create a U.S.E. and
    take UK sovereignty away."
  • too much French influence pressure to adapt our
    tax and other laws to those of high- cost French
    social model French often speak about
    "harmonisation" ( up, not down)
  • main interest in the EU for British is access to
    a huge "common market"

What have the British got against Europe?
Are we the only ones who obey the rules?
  • The Mad Cow crisis .
  • The Spanish fishing inspectors .
  • The Franco-German PB deficit .

The Disunited States of Europe?
Brussels' lack of understanding of the Real World
"Many people were taken aback Thursday by
comments at a press conference just before
midnight by Jean-Claude Juncker, the EU
president José Manuel Barroso, who heads the
European Commission and Josep Borrell, leader of
the European Parliament. BRUSSELS When three
European Union leaders announced that
ratification of the EU constitution would be
"postponed for a period of reflection," they
blamed neither the document's architects nor
themselves. They blamed the European
public. The French and Dutch voters who said no
to the charter did not really reject the
constitution, the EU officials said Thursday
night they just failed to understand it. The
comments, after nearly three weeks of
soul-searching about Europe's direction, spoke
less of a crisis atmosphere than of a surreal
disconnect between Europe's leadership and its
voters. The fact that none of the three
officials had been elected by Europeans as a
whole, but were appointed to their posts, only
strengthened the sense of detachment between
voters and EU institutions."
Judy Dempsey and Katrin Bennhold International
Herald Tribune SATURDAY, JUNE 18, 2005
The Disunited States of Europe?
The French government's reaction?
  • President Mr Chirac dismissed the Prime Minister
  • appointed Mr Dominic de Villepin, an unelected
  • promised to give full priority to employment
  • main weapon in job creation policy -gt new
    two-year "sack without reason" contract for
    companies with up to 20 employees
  • recognition of problems of over-secure employment
  • much easier to dismiss workers in Denmark
    unemployment of lt5
  • new policy vigorously opposed by unions ..

The French public's reaction?
  • "We've heard it all before."
  • unemployment has swung between 8.6 and 12.3
    percent since the early 1980s
  • people are sceptical
  • Chirac's popularity at record low

The Disunited States of Europe?
Fantasy Unreality in "Olde Europe" Triumphant
prime minister says result revives hopes for
treaty Nicholas Watt, European editor - Monday
July 11, 2005 - The Guardian
  • Voters in Luxembourg briefly revived the European
    constitution yesterday when they strongly
    endorsed the measure weeks after emphatic no
    votes in France and Holland. Jean-Claude Juncker,
    the Luxembourg prime minister who had
    threatened to resign if the Grand Duchy had voted
    the same way, emerged triumphant after the
    constitution was approved by 56.52 to 43.48.
  • An arch-federalist, Mr Juncker immediately
    attempted to use the yes vote - and the fact that
    13 of the EU's 25 members have now approved the
    constitution - to intensify his campaign to keep
    the treaty alive.
  • Article continues "If Luxembourg had said 'no'
    the constitution would have been dead," he
    declared last night. As Luxembourg has said
    'yes' the process can go ahead. There is a way
    for the European constitution to be adopted.
  • "If Luxembourg had said 'no', Europe would have
    been in an ultra-serious crisis. Now that
    Luxembourg has voted yes, Europe is still in
    crisis, but there is a silver lining."
  • Mr Juncker's remarks are likely to provoke raised
    eyebrows in many European capitals. The
    Luxembourg prime minister earlier concluded that
    the French and Dutch no votes were not a
    rejection of the constitution but were motivated
    by other concerns.
  • Yesterday he appeared to suggest that only
    Luxembourg has a veto.

The Disunited States of Europe?
Save the Constitution!!
The Consequences of the French Dutch "Noes"?
The Constitution is dead - long Live the
The two votes effectively killed the
Constitution. Two major questions remain A) Can
anything be saved? B) Where now for Europe?
  • Dutch and French "noes" terrible blow to the
    morale of believers in political union
  • EU leaders had assumed countries voting "No"
    would either be small (Denmark or Czech
    Republic, who could be "encouraged" to vote again
    to get the "right" result) or a more sceptical
    country such as Britain
  • Some anti-British federalists relished the idea
    of presenting the British with the choice of
    ratifying the constitution or leaving the EU
  • with FRANCE voting "Non", it is impossible to see
    either "solution" as viable

"Dead, but not yet buried" - Jun 6th 2005 - From
The Economist print edition
The Disunited States of Europe?
Can anything be salvaged?
  • a new vote would have to be on a revised text,
    but strongest French demands in any
    renegotiation would be for extension of French
    social protection to rest of EU
  • other members would never concede this Eastern
    Europe in particular is more pro 'Anglo-Saxon
  • so renegotiation and a second vote are
    unthinkable, but so is the option of excluding
  • unlike Britain, France has always been
    politically (and geographically) central to the
  • like the Netherlands, France is one of the six
    founders, and also one of the 12 that have
    joined the single European currency, the euro
  • an EU without France is unthinkable

How else might the EU get out of its crisis? What
about "Cherry-picking"?
The Disunited States of Europe?
  • difficulty that some key provisions (changes to
    the voting system, the abolition of some vetoes,
    the creation of a Charter of Fundamental Rights)
    require treaty amendments
  • one big change that might be achievable without
    referendums is creation of EU foreign minister
    by inter-governmental agreement - but that could
    be politically tricky after the French and
    Dutch votes, anything that looks like
    elite-driven attempt to circumvent popular will
    is out of the question

The "Hard Core" option?
  • popular idea with federalists is for a hard
    core led by France and Germany to press ahead
    with closer political union
  • common points in German and French positions
    might encourage this (further enlargement, for
    example, plus historical motivations)
  • but Frances Jacques Chirac now politically
    diminished and Germanys Gerhard Schröder likely
    to lose the German election in September

The Disunited States of Europe?
The EU summit of July, 2005
  • Around midnight on Friday, the meeting broke up
    in acrimony and disagreement.
  • Jean-Claude Juncker, the prime minister of
    Luxembourg, who had been chairing the summit,
    told journalists that Europe is now in deep
  • Jacques Chirac, the president of France, echoed
    these words and placed the blame for the
    meetings failure squarely on Britain and its
    prime minister, Tony Blair, whom he accused of
    national egoism.
  • A visibly angry Mr Blair used his closing press
    conference to shoot back at French accusations
    that Britain lacked a European spirit, saying
    pointedly that Europe isnt owned by anybody.
    He demanded a fundamental debate about the
    future priorities of the EU.
  • BBC Website - July 2005

The Disunited States of Europe?
National Egoism on the rise?
  • If France cannot regain the initiative in Europe
    through a joint venture with Germany, it may
    become increasingly curmudgeonly in its dealings
    with the EU.
  • This would be bad news for future enlargement of
    the club.
  • Even Bulgaria and Rumania, which have signed
    accession treaties, could find the doors bolted
    at the last moment (French parliament still has
    to ratify Bulgarian and Romanian membership)
  • omens worse for Turkey, due to start membership
    talks with the EU in October powerful lobbies
    in both France and Germany against Turkey's
  • French may make trouble on other issues too
    opposing British rebate and further
  • If France becomes negative and nationalistic,
    other countries will follow its lead .

The Disunited States of Europe?
So, Europe is split, but at least is not at war
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