European Commission should not be over zealous

Here is an interesting article by Peter Sain ley Berry, editor of EuropaWorld, about the current struggle in the EU regarding the adoption of an EU constitution and the many nation-specific issues which get in the way.

For those who are not aware, each of the 25 EU member States is going to one by one say "yes" or "no" through national referendums. But acceptance of the EU constitution is not a "majority" thing, it has to be "absolute", i.e. every single member must have had a national "yes". If only one member rejects it, then it all falls through.

Spain has already voted, and it was a "yes". France is to come soon, and is one of the more problematic ones, along with UK, Poland, Sweden, and Denmark - the rest is nearly certain to vote "yes".

I agree with Peter that the EU commission should tread softly. Most of the ppl here in France have little idea of what's going on, and tend to confuse (and assimilate and even blame) the EU concept with our nation's economic problems and our government gross ineptitude. Only last night on TV, I saw something about right wing parties talks mentioning that maybe Rafarrin should retire because "his failing to achieve any of the promised results, together with his call for a "yes" vote to the EU constitution results in a great fear and discredit of the latter because of the former".

Anyway, this is quite a long article, which I'm sure will bore our American friends to tears, so I'll only quote the first 4 paragraphs + a link to the original for the brave ones :-)

"If the Commission brought forward
not a single new economic initiative
for the next two years it is unlikely
that any voter would complain, or
even notice" (Photo: EuropaWorld)

25.03.2005 - 12:07 CET | By Peter Sain ley Berry

A story that did the rounds some years ago concerned a young woman whose car had stalled at a road junction. In vain, she tried to restart the engine while the line of vehicles grew longer behind her. When one particularly impatient and choleric man started blowing his horn and shouting abuse, the woman suggested that if he would only have the kindness to attempt to start her car, she would sit in his and manage the horn blowing operations. Thus could they best make progress satisfactory to both parties.

I was reminded of this story by the recent ill-tempered exchanges between the President of the European Commission and the President of France on the eve of this week's European Council. The latter finds himself with a stalled car, or rather a stalled referendum campaign, or rather still a referendum campaign that is now rolling backwards. For after a progressively steady decline in support for the 'yes' camp, the two latest polls have suggested that French voters will actually reject the European Constitution on 29th May.

The reasons for this haemorrhage of support - only a few weeks ago many were expecting a 60-40 vote in favour - have been well rehearsed and need not detain us: the Constitution is seen as being overly Anglo-Saxon in tone; the French have fears about accommodating Turkey and other potential candidates within the Union and latterly the Commission's proposal to resurrect the plan to liberalise the services market is seen as a threat to social protection. Of these, only the first is strictly a constitutional matter, as the horn-blowing Mr Barroso was quick to point out.

"If there's total confusion in the minds of the French public between the Constitution, Turkey and the Services Directive, it is not the Commission's fault," he thundered. "It's up to French politicians to explain what's involved in this vote, to clear up the misunderstanding. The Commission…….can't do the job of French politicians. It's for them to take responsibility."

... full article here


The people have been in the streets for weeks voicing their displeasure at the rightwing government with little effect. Salaries aren't keeping pace with the rise in cost of consumer goods and whether this has anything to do with the EU or not they may very well use a non vote on the constituion as a way to further protest. I suspect the gov is going to have to come up with something juicy to appease the appetites of it's citizens.

Posted by Dianne
3/26/2005 01:40:00 pm  
Whether the French people are confusing two issues or not I don't know. I see it as true democracy in action. The gov continues to push it's way regardless of the people protest and in fact, acting as if the people don't have enough sense to understand what is going on. The ball is in the govs court now and we will see what they will do.
3/26/2005 01:45:00 pm  
"Whether the French people are confusing two issues or not I don't know "

There is no doubt about it. Not so much they are confusing  the issues, for the simple reason they have no clue what the EU commission is, nor the EU parliament, let alone the EU constitution.

All they see and hear is 1) Rafarin fucking up everything and 2) Rafarin encouraging the citizens to vote "yes" to the EU constitution. So to most of us it equates to "some other Rafarin scheme to screw us even more".

I heard and read a few short weeks ago that every citizen in every EU country would receive in the mail a little booklet explaining what the EU constitution was about before they vote for it (which sounds like ... er... logical, right, LOL). Well, to this day, Spain has already voted, we're next, and I still ain't seen nuttin' of the booklet in our mail box.

I laughed reading Barroso fuming that it wasn't his job to do the job of the French politicians, hahahaha!, how right he is too - meaning, not only that it's not his job, but implying our politicians can't do their jobs. 

Posted by WhyNot
3/27/2005 11:33:00 am  
I'm leery about the EU in essense "ratifying" a single constitution for reasons that may seem simplistic and are certainly voiced from a standpoint of little understanding of the overall situation, so give little creedence to why I'm going to say here, but...

I thought the idea of Europe forming a single economic entity would be very good for the bulk of the nations involved, and so far, it seems to be working fairly well, the problems notwithstanding. However I hate the idea of fewer larger countries for reasons I can't even articulate. My gut simply tells me that larger countries are more likely to do more harm to their citizens simply because they have the wherewithall to set up larger military forces to back the governments' will. (see "United States of America") Then, when the wrong set of leaders gets into power, the people are less likely to be able to topple that governmenmt by virtue of the leadership having the power to use the same military meant to protect its people to abuse folks - both inside and outside the borders of whatever country we happen to be talking about.

I know it's a moot point by now, but I'd much rather see lots of small countries and a stronger international watch dog agency than fewer, larger, stronger countries with a less potent U.N. or similar organization. I'd be in favor of breaking the U.S. into smaller "zones" for the same reason. That would necessarily mean getting rid of the stacked "saecurity counsel" in the U.N. or whatever follows as well... but it's very possible I'm crazy anyway. 

Posted by surrogate
3/27/2005 04:48:00 pm  

You're not crazy at all, and you bring up an interesting perspective here that I hadn't even thought of. Mostly because, while the EU machine keeps grinding its slow but sure way of becoming a huge federation, most natives of each member State aren't quite realizing the extent of what's happening, and are concerned 99% with state wide issues only.

At this stage, it's a long way from being like in the USA where, while ppl have their little gentle teasing sessions between States (usually only flaring out when there is a football match), they are obviously united deep inside under a common nation wide belonging feeling.

I'm not so sure that the larger the entity, the more chances of ill treatment of the citizens by the leaders. I see plenty of examples of small countries that are the pits in that respect. But certainly, the danger of larger countries bullying smaller ones exist. I only hope that 1) we've learned our lessons from our infamous past, 2) the EU constitution and all forms of its government institution will be sufficiently well devised to make imperialism a thing of the past.

Right now, apart from the self-aimed EU development, there is probably some merit for it becoming a strong united force from an international point of view, if only to counter balance the USA which are now going totally bonkers in their imperialist rampage. It's sad and ironical that the cold-war times were probably safer in terms of world peace than now, and the only reason for it was there were 2 super powers growling at each other and keeping each other in check.

I entirely agree with you about getting rid of the Security Council in the UN. It's completely un-democratic, and while it may have had its merit at the time of the UN's inception, I feel it's totally irrelevant now. But I think it will be the day when we see France/Russia/USA/etc agreeing to do away with it, LOL.

On the other hand, Bush has been on a relentless campaign of UN bashing, the intention of which is clear to everyone on this planet except the American right wingers, i.e. that it is to get rid of the only remaining force which can say "no" to the US.

I kinda hope one day Russia will be part of the EU. Hell, there is certainly a closer cultural affinity between Europe and Russia than there is between Europe and Turkey! 

Posted by WhyNot
3/27/2005 06:45:00 pm  
"I'm leery about the EU in essense "ratifying" a single constitution for reasons that may seem simplistic and are certainly voiced from a standpoint of little understanding of the overall situation "

Surrogate, believe me those of us here in Europe don't understand the overall situation very well either. But, it's great to see you trying to. I remember living in the states and barely knowing where France was on the map. If I could live those years over again I would certainly do things differently. The key to peace in this world is as we grow closer together not further apart.

Right now I'm for the EU becoming stronger although before the Iraq war I was sceptical. There has to be a counterbalance to men like Bush. Sad to say, but true.


Posted by Dianne
3/27/2005 08:29:00 pm  



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