The Times argues in a column that a revised Constitutional Treaty (which would be purged of certain national elements (anthem....) and not be called constitutional anymore (which was incorrect and a PR debacle in the first place)) is not wanted nor needed in Europe. They also demand, not to be cheated out of a referendum on this treaty. They obviously have a point in regard to the referenda (I will get back to that in a second), but their overall argument is quite faulty.
The implication is that the treaty gives 'still more power to the European bureaucracy.' This completely ignores the fact that the treaty in its current form actually strengtens national parliaments as well as the EP. Also, through qualified majority voting (meaning that not as many issues would require unanimous deciscion-making anymore) the clout of democratically elected politicians would be strengthened (even if at the expense of the nation state, yet definitely not favoring the European bureaucracy).
Fear of the 'Franco-German alliance' dominating the EU are invoked, which suggests that the author has not kept up to date on his politics for a while. Ever since the accessions of 2004 France and Germany simply cannot dominate as much anymore, two countries, no matter their size or historical/traditional EU-powers, cannot impose their will on 25 others. If Britain was willing to take a more active role in EU-politics, its influence would rise accordingly and no would be able to (nor really want to) prevent this from happening. A case in point for this would be developement of the European Defense and Security Policy in which Britain played a decisive role (plainly speaking, it would have never gotten off the ground if not for British involvement).
Finally, William Rees-Mogg claims that 'a number of countries' would prefer no new treaty. I don't see that. Poland, yes. The UK, maybe (not so sure whether Blair or even Brown would agree). But that's kind of it, I believe 18 countries have ratified the Constitutional Treaty, showing open support to it, two have rejected it. I wonder a little where those numbers that he talks about are coming from.
Lastly, in regard to possible referenda, I agree that it would be elitist to ratifiy a new treaty based on the old Constitutional one, especially in France, the Netherlands (where the people rejected the earlier one) and the UK (where a referendum had been promised to the people). Yet, I would argue that a referendum should take place on a European level, on one day, involving some kind of mixture of states and absolute votes won to pass the treaty. Thus, the people would have their say, but at the same time would not pass judgement on Blair, Chirac or Balkenende and turn Europe into a scapegoat. This obviously will not happen, national politicians are not really interested in creating a European political arena, but it would be a strong signal of taking the people and European democracy serious while at the same time strengthening an emerging European society (yes, it is still a long way to go, but what do you want? I am a progressive utopian sometimes, not just a cycnic all the time).
Friday Night Music: When I’m 64
2 days ago