Ahern is not known for his flamboyant use of English.
So when he, following the resounding defeat of his
'mate' Chirac, says "European integration must
and will continue despite this unfortunate episode
he is expressing more an ardent wish of the powerful
rather than an objective evaluation of reality.
He is basically repeating what he told us, after
last week's State execution of the two Dublin would-be
Robin Hoods: "
..this is not the time
for weak-kneed responses
" There are,
however, despite Bertie's arrogance, serious questions
afoot - and to this end I would like to start a
debate of the future of united Europe with
the readers / supporters of The Blanket.
the key issues that the Eurocrats would have to
consider almost immediately, and we must also reflect
on, are Turkey's forthcoming application for EU
membership and the clarification of the level of
EU funding for each member State in the context
of the 4th Framework Programme. These two issues
were probably top of the list of concerns in the
French NON camp.
am not concerned in this space here with proposals
to repeat the French referendum, a-la maniere
irlandaise, as Giscard d' Estaing put it on
Monday or supposed footnotes of the Constitutional
Treaty stating that if 20 out of the 25 member States
vote YES then the Council of Ministers must meet
to decide "the way to proceed"!! We'll
cross those bridges when we come to them. The key
question I want to pose and deal with is whether
it is possible to talk of a [united] Europe without
the full and willing participation of European women
political content of the very diverse French NO
camp was made up of two main main categories: on
the one hand, those who objected to the present
content of the Constitutional Treaty but put forward
the idea of a process of re-negotiation and, on
the other, those who rejected entirely the project
of a federal Europe which they said underpinned
the Treaty. VOTE NO was the point of unity between
the two sections
there, however, the unity
ended and questions must now begin. It is interesting
to note that both points of view co-exist here in
Ireland amongst the political parties, like Sinn
Fein or a section of the Greens and a small minority
of the Labour Party who have publicly stated their
opposition to or, at best, their anxiety about the
Constitutional Treaty project.
leader of the French Communist Party, for example,
one of the main constituents of the NO camp, when
asked about her Party's specific proposals, responded
in the most fascinating manner. She said: "Jacques
Chirac, the French President, must now meet with
all the constituent parts of the NO camp, listen
to our demands, and draft a chart that he should
propose and argue for to the rest of the European
leaders - so that the project can be renegotiated!!"
Quite a number of French nationalists, like Philippe
de Villiers, for example, started singing from the
same hymn sheet, projecting Chirac as "the
representative of the French NO camp" in Europe
- can you see Bertie, representing the Irish opposition,
asking for a re-negotiation of the Treaty that he,
himself, did so much to cook last year?
issue of the neo-liberal content of the Constitutional
Treaty was another unifying line in the No camp
in France. In this respect, it is significant that
the European Confederation of Industry, based in
Geneva, took an immediate stand, asking for the
"continuation" of the process of unification.
Their request was immediately echoed by the Prime
Minister of Luxemburg, who holds the current presidency
of the Union. Faced by a second Dutch Tsunami tomorrow
June 1st, he stated glibly: "We are continuing
on the path we have travelled so far"!!
French NO camp argued forcefully that Brussels must
reject its current neo-liberal approach regarding
privatisations and return to the social justice
vision argued so forcefully (and agreed) in Lisbon
a few years ago. The revolutionary Left components
of the No camp, argued, for example, that there
should be a unified minimum wage across the 25 member
States. The ultra-Right, on the other hand, based
its arguments on the fear of foreigners coming to
France (particularly from Turkey) and the migration
of French companies into areas with lower labour
costs. Xenophobia and imperial nationalism were
the two catch cries of Le Pen and his cohorts.
what do the Eurocrats do now?
Le Baille, spokeswoman for the EU, responding to
the question of what is the next move for Brussels,
said: "The result of the French referendum
extends to a whole variety of areas
carefully examine the consequences. The message
sent to Brussels by the French people will be discussed
by the Commissioners and will be analysed fully
by the next Brussels Summit due to take place on
June 16/17." And she concluded: " It would
be unwise to draw too many conclusions right now"!
is possible that a number of member States that
have not as yet taken a decision on the Constitutional
Treaty may eventually decide that it would not make
too much sense to continue with the process. It
is also fair to say that the re-negotiation
agenda has not got too many supporters right now.
The prospect of a machination repeating the 2nd
round Maastricht vote in Denmark and the Nice debacle
in Ireland does not appear very practical either.
of the most likely scenarios would be the prospect
of a reinforced co-operation, a scheme that
has surfaced before: this would allow certain member
states to proceed together, without the majority,
in certain areas. Another figment would be a mini-Treaty,
with the Brits laughing all the way to Washington
behind it. The June 16/17 Summit must be watched
very carefully. With France on the canvas, with
Germany and Poland looking at elections by the end
of the summer, with the Netherlands suffering its
own tsunami, and with Italy, Greece, Portugal and
Spain dreaming of the 4th Framework funds which
are likely to be delayed now
these lines are being written, with the ever so
popular Havel from the Czech Republic saying: "The
result is out
they have lost and they must
" - the Summit is gonna
be a sight to behold.
responses from The Blanket community?