27 June 2006

François Bayrou urges the EU to go federal

Le Monde reports that leader of the French centrist UDF (Union pour la Démocratie Française) party François Bayrou said at a conference at the weekend that if the French were asked to vote again on the EU Constitution, which 55% of them rejected in the referendum last year, they would vote no "by more than 60%." So why have not the French attitudes towards the Constitution warmed?

The main reason why the French put a brake on the Constitution was that the extremist parties were ready enough to deploy "politics of fear." The voters were not asked to consider the merits of the Constitution per se, but rather to deliver a judgment on national government's record and the EU in general.

Thus the extreme left could capitalise on scaring the voters; the Constitution would apparently be the end of the European social model. Paradoxically, the Constitution's Charter of Fundamental Rights would actually entrench the workers rights. The major bogeyman was the proposed EU law on services, the so called Bolkestein directive. Now, when the directive has already been enacted, needless to say in a very limited form, the anti-neoliberal French should no longer worry about the Polish plumbers.

Contrariwise, the extreme right attacked the Constitution on the grounds that it would further reduce French national sovereignty. However, this argument did not resonate among the electorate as much as the claim, not completely unsubstantiated, that the Constitution would pave the way for the further, uncontrolled EU enlargement. The French, generally uneasy about the prospects of the Turkish membership, flocked to the "No" camp. The concerns that Turkey could enter without the explicit public consent have now been appeased by a constitutional amendment which requires calling a referendum on every new EU entry after Croatia.

It is good news that the worries of the French have been addressed - the services directive was designed to take in account French uncertainties; the use of referenda for further enlargement was guaranteed. Unfortunately, in spite of all that the opposition to the Constitution rose if we are to believe Bayrou's words. So where lies the mistake?

Clearly, the French government is still unpopular, and the anxieties of the French seem to persist. The country suffers from low self-confidence and frequent political scandals. The citizens are afraid of globalisation, afraid of the Constitution, afraid of change.

Nonetheless, it is too late to resurrect the Constitution. Despite all the talk, it seems unlikely that the Constitution would ever be revived in its current form.

Bayrou went on to to call for a "reconstruction of the federal dimension" in order to protect differences in Europe, and, in the words of Le Monde, help the EU "escape its transformation into a techno-legal superstructure which makes people flee." These are fine words. Let us only hope that the remedy will come soon; otherwise the people will keep fleeing.

10 comments:

escalate said...

Surely, it was mainly discontent with domestic governments and the cherry-picking of exactly those bits and pieces that seemed to confirm whichever worst fears parts of the French and Dutch societies had at the time, that led to a strange – and bizarrely contradictory – alliance of no voter – able to bring the whole project down.

Nevertheless, I suspect that the nos and nees were symptomatic for the much wider, underlying trend of increasing EU fatigue among European citizens, even in countries that have traditionally been most pro-European, such as France and Germany (Germans weren’t allowed to vote, but if you believe recent opinion polls, there is a chance that they might have voted no, too).

What is to be done? Simply trying to revive the Constitution in some modestly changed format - as Angela Merkel, Germany's chancellor, now thinks is the way forward – won't work, I suspect. It will need much braver steps. The EU in the 21st century, needs a purpose for the 21st century. Unless Europeans are able to see again what the EU can do for them – and not only what it requires them to do and accept and what dangers it brings along – further no votes in any future referendum are likely. As long as Europe's political elite does not acknowledge that fresh thinking is required, attempts to resuscitate the embattled Treaty will, I think, be in vain.

Hey Thomas, looks very promising indeed. I'm excited to read more. Speak soon.

(I have started some very modest blogging, too, if you fancy having a look.)

20 said...

Firstly, there are questions about the commitment of the EU to the social model, as the Constitution continued the clause that the EU's regulations would not affect 'pay, right of association or lockout' - not the most brave step towards a Europe of social justice ever.

Secondly, the constitution was 245 pages long. This speaks to the ordinary voter of a clear lack of vision, a distrust of the ordinary electorate that makes politicians fail to articulate the EU's aims in 'plain terms', and finally, the crippling overregulation that all Eurosceptics complain of.

I maintain that the EU should have a constitution which enshrines a) democratic decision making processes, checks, balances and jurisdiction, b) the rights of the European citizen, c) the rights to accession and secession from the Union. And nothing else.

Why set in stone a set of complicated economic regulation that need to be flexible to the changing rules of the Union?

Tomáš Ruta said...

Daniel: Thanks; your blog looks nice too!

20: I agree that the Constitutional draft was not ideal. But it was never to be so, not least because the Convention had 105 members, all eager to leave their legacy in the document. In my opinion, the Constitution was a step forward anyway. A modest step; but that is how Europe has kept going for the last 50 years.

Araceli said...

Great blog Tomas! I just on to add something: the creation of the 88-5 title in the Constitution applies to all candidates, Croatia included. Another genius idea from Chirac. Imagine how they could get French people to vote on the membership of Iceland, or Norway!

About the campaign, I can confirm that the French were thinking, at 90%, about their own country and even their individual lives. How many times did I hear "I'm unemployed, and I'm given the chance to say "no" (just think, how childish that is), so I'll do it"? But that's also French politicians' responsibility, especially those in the "yes" camp, because you can't really expect communists or xenophobes to be honest about Europe or to orientate the debate towards the actual text.

Nicola said...

Ahoj Tome.Zdravím tě ze zamračeného Liberce, doufám, že ten náš jazyk mě dostatečně kryje před mým nedostatkem navázat na téma ostatních komentujících. Jen ti chci popřát fajné léto a napsat pár hezkých českých vět do tvých vyvedených stránek:)

Anonymous said...

i love youuuuu :D

Tomáš Ruta said...

Well, thanks for that. It has made my day; just what one needs when one is ill and feeling dizzy.

Anonymous said...

Hi !.
You re, I guess , probably very interested to know how one can make real money .
There is no initial capital needed You may start earning with as small sum of money as 20-100 dollars.

AimTrust is what you need
The company incorporates an offshore structure with advanced asset management technologies in production and delivery of pipes for oil and gas.

It is based in Panama with offices around the world.
Do you want to become a happy investor?
That`s your choice That`s what you really need!

I`m happy and lucky, I began to take up real money with the help of this company,
and I invite you to do the same. If it gets down to choose a proper companion who uses your money in a right way - that`s the AimTrust!.
I take now up to 2G every day, and my first deposit was 1 grand only!
It`s easy to get involved , just click this link http://avoqeron.builtfree.org/oxigufa.html
and lucky you`re! Let`s take this option together to become rich

Anonymous said...

Hello everyone!
I would like to burn a theme at here. There is such a thing, called HYIP, or High Yield Investment Program. It reminds of financial piramyde, but in rare cases one may happen to meet a company that really pays up to 2% daily not on invested money, but from real profits.

For several years , I earn money with the help of these programs.
I don't have problems with money now, but there are heights that must be conquered . I get now up to 2G a day , and my first investment was 500 dollars only.
Right now, I managed to catch a guaranteed variant to make a sharp rise . Turn to my web site to get additional info.

http://theinvestblog.com [url=http://theinvestblog.com]Online Investment Blog[/url]

poker said...

PROMO DELIMA
poker online terpercaya | poker online | Agen Domino | Agen Poker | Kumpulan Poker | bandar poker | Judi Poker | Judi online terpercaya | bandar qiu | situs judi online

Ayo segera daftarkan diri anda dan bergabunglah bersama kami !!
Delimapoker.com Situs Agen Poker Online Terpercaya di Indonesia akan melayani Anda dengan profesional, memproses depo/wd dgn cepat. Come join and be a winer with us !!

Untuk info selanjutnya silakan chat ke :
Livechat_____: delimapoker
BBM__________: 7B960959
Facebook_____: delimapoker
Phone number_: +85595678845
pendaftaran___