EU Constitution on track
Leinen claims that the absence of this treaty or constitution is the reason why Europe is under-performing in energy policy, the war on terror, the fight against illegal immigration, the fight against organised crime and many other areas. Essentially, ‘more Europe’ is the solution to Europe’s ills. He says that the German presidency in 2007 should work towards a consensus and that corrections and amendments to the old text should be agreed upon by 2008, by which time a new ratification process could begin. He wants the new treaty to be ratified by referendum – but by a single referendum taking place simultaneously across the whole of Europe, and that the ‘majority’ should be of voters as well as of states (this essentially destroys national sovereignty before the vote has even taken place). Leinen said it was quite wrong for the will of ‘the majority’ to be thwarted by ‘No’ votes in ‘one or two states’, notwithstanding that those two states were founder members of the whole project.
But the French Socialists are of the opinion that the Constitution has to be abandoned, and their leader in the National Assembly, Jean-Marc Ayrault, said: ‘It is not possible to make our citizens vote again on the same text,’ (Libération, 20th October 2006). By contrast, all the representatives of all the other EU Socialist groups refuse to accept that the Constitution is dead. Leinen said: ‘It is very dangerous to say that the treaty is dead,’ – even though Germany itself has not ratified the constitution since, although it was approved by the German Parliament, it has been successfully stalled by an appeal by anti-Constitution campaigners to the Federal Constitutional Court.
Where does this leave Britannia? Well, when Leinen was asked whether or not there should be a referendum in Austria, where anti-EU feeling is among the highest in the Union, he said that there should be no popular vote since there was provision for the Constitution to be ratified by the country’s Parliament. If it is re-branded a mere ‘treaty’, doubtless the same will be argued for the United Kingdom, and the Royal Prerogative will be the mechanism by which the Constitution is imposed.