Thursday, June 02, 2005

Euro Blame Game

The wicked witch of Western Europe, EU communications commissioner Margot Wallström, today floated plan "B". Confusingly, she calls it plan "D" (oh those wacky Euro-crats). Her idea? Say it again, only louder:
Speaking later at an extraordinary meeting of the constitutional affairs committee in the European Parliament, the Swede said Plan D would mean being "better at listening ... and better at explaining to citizens."
Remember, Wallström heads the EU's office of Institutional Relations and Communication; "she has been directly involved in efforts to make up the gap between the European integration process and EU citizens." A few days ago, she called the treaty negotiations, "the most open and transparent process we have ever had." She now insists, "we have listened and that we have learned something." Uh, Margot, form a sentence with these words: "horse," "barn-door," "closing." Time limit for answering: "200 years or President Chirac's immunity from prosecution, whichever is longer."

Remaining Euro-crats are finger-pointing, but they're not aiming at condescending elites, Valéry Giscard d'Estaing, or Jacques Chirac. Instead, Brussels blames bloggers, and one in particular: Marseille high school teacher Etienne Chouard, whose French-language website includes a 26-page, 48 footnote, essay urging a Non. My (rudimentary) translation of his five reasons for rejection:
  1. A Constitution must be readable by the voters: this text is illegible.

  2. A Constitution is procedural, without imposing one policy or another: this text enshrines everything.

  3. A Constitution can be amended: this text is yoked to the "double unanimity" requirement (Amendments require unanimous approval from 25 member governments plus their parliaments).

  4. A Constitution protects from tyranny by the separation of, and constraints on, power: this text neither separates nor truly limits power.

  5. A Constitution is not ordained from above, it is enacted by the people themselves as protection from state power and caprice, achieved via the people's representatives, themselves subject to recall by periodic elections: this text enshrines fifty year-old European institutions already acting as both judge and jury.
Immediately before the French vote, Chouard's blog, "was getting 25,000 hits a day and his anti-constitution broadside had been photocopied, faxed and blogged about across France."

The Washington Post called Chourad "something of a folk hero to the No campaign." (Nicolas Vanbremeersch, part of the Publius group blog, and Dutch blogger Steeph, also were influential.) So why blame bloggers? According to the BBC:
The "Yes" campaigners argued that the blogs were perpetuating myths and half-truths, French internet consultant Stanislas Magniant told the BBC.

But those opposed to the constitution found the internet in general and blogs in particular as one of the ways to get their message out, he said.

"Proponents of 'No' have said the mainstream media have been shamelessly in favour of the 'Yes'. They said the internet was the main area where the democratic debate can take place," he added.
Attempting a second (rudimentary) translation from BBC-speak: Accustomed to a lap-dog MSM, Brussels blames bloggers for prevailing.

Bitching about blogs won't repair the Euro-wreck. The Constitution can't merely be tweeked or patched; it should be scrapped. As the Wall Street Journal observed, the American Constitution starts with stirring words, "We the People of the United States." By contrast, the EU Constitution begins: "His Majesty the King of the Belgians . . ." Anyone still awake?

The EU Observer quotes Søren Winther Lundby, who runs the center-left "New Europe" think-tank, pronouncing, "[t]he EU has reached a stage, where only the citizens can guarantee a new impetus for Europe." Quite the revelation; participatory government reflecting the people's will--what a novel concept! The sole surprise is French and Netherlands voters demanding a democracy injection before the elite even realized Europe was sick.


Two articles in Thursday's The Times (London):
President Chirac of France, anxious to avoid the blame for killing the constitution, wrote to the EU’s other heads. “While nine countries have already approved it, all the other member states should now state their views on this treaty,” he said.

But Poland and the Czech Republic, two countries that had been planning to hold referendums, both showed signs of wavering. And while Tony Blair maintained a tactical silence last night, close allies had already made clear his view that the ratification process should be abandoned. . .

Anthony Browne, Europe Correspondent of The Times, said today: "The treaty can only progress if France and the Netherlands find a way of overturning their vote. Until then - and this is being quietly expressed by the British Government in particular - it is pointless to continue with the ratification process.

"President Chirac and Prime Minister Balkenende are both urging the other nations to press ahead with the process because neither wants their nation to be seen as the assassin which killed Europe. But this is beginning to look like a case of the emperor's new clothes - everyone can see that the constitution is dead, but no one wants to say so."

The closest any European leader came to suggesting that the constitutional emperor may in fact be naked was Giulio Tremonti, the Italian Deputy Prime Minister, who said: "I think that the European Constitution as it has been presented and managed is finished. After a popular vote such as took place in France and the Netherlands, I see no alternative, technically or politically."


Steeph said...

Thx for this overview on the recent events surrounding the EU constitution row!

Carl said...

You are most welcome, Steeph! Congrats on halting the EU's run-away train.