Archive for the 'Constitution' Category

Why EU-sceptics should NOT want a short Constitution

11 June 2005

In the “why” and “where to now” discussions that started after the double ‘no’ in the French and Dutch referendums, an often heard opinion is that the EU Constitution is too long, and that a shorter text outlining only fundamental rights and decision-making procedures would have stood a better chance of being adopted. That may be so, but if it does it would be proof that what voters actually want is a more integrated Europe. (more…)

European voices

7 June 2005

Just a few remarkable or interesting snippets picked from the European press. (more…)

Live-blogging the referendum in the Netherlands

1 June 2005

23:20– Should add (and that really is the last thing I write before going to bed) that EU leaders have confirmed they want the ratification process to continue. Juncker said so again, as did Schröder. Seems the only exception is Blair – well, and of course the Czech president Klaus, but he is not in charge of the executive so that does not count. I am ambivalent about this. Yes, of course the votes in favour by 49% of the EU population (whether or not directly in a referendum) should count, as do those of the people who have not even had the opportunity yet to vote. My democratic instincts urge me to agree with the government leaders. But my Constitution instincts (or would that be the pragmatic civil servant within me?) say: ‘Don’t! It’s a lot of hassle, and it is only going to harm the Constitution (whatever form it will take in future agreements) even further.’ So perhaps not then. (more…)

O Freunde, nicht dieser Töne!

29 May 2005

Sondern lasst uns angenehmere
anstimmen, und freudenvollere!

France votes no to the EU Constitution: 55% no – 45% yes. Turnout is high.

So, back to the drawing board? Not sure here… Naturally, if you value the democratic principle that everyone must have the opportunity to pronounce himself on the issue, and if you want to know if France (and perhaps the Netherlands and the UK) are alone in Europe in their rejection of the Constitution, the ratification process should continue. That is also what, in the run-up to the referendum, Jean-Claude Juncker said he thought should happen. Several European politicians have repeated that tonight.

On the other hand, the French result may influence the votes in other countries so much that the outcomes might not be too indicative of people’s opinions anyway. And a, no doubt, symbolic rearrangement of the Constitution’s contents would of course offer the opportunity to relaunch the ratification process and get it right this time (i.e. voting on the same day or at least in the same week, or even better: an EU-wide referendum after parliamentary ratification in those countries where a national referendum can be avoided). (more…)

Yes to the EU, yes to the Constitution

25 May 2005

Versac, from the French blog Publius, sent me a list of questions concerning my views on the EU and the EU Constitution. The idea is to interview a number of non-French bloggers in this way and publish the result on Publius, as part of the discussion in France – which is, by the way, (compared to the Netherlands for instance) of excellent quality. Below are my replies in English. The translation in French (or excerpts thereof, as I could not keep myself, once again, from being exceedingly lengthy…) will appear on Publius in the days to come.

who are you ? How would you characterize your attitude concerning the European Union and the process of European integration : Euroenthusiast, Eurosceptic, Europhobe? Why?

I have worked in one of the EU institutions in Brussels for several years and now work as a civil servant in the Netherlands, still on EU affairs. As for my attitude toward the EU and European integration, I would first of all call myself a democrat – that is the main reason why I am in favour of further integration. (more…)

The big picture: a short guide to EU negotiations

21 March 2005

This year is a decisive one for the EU. Not in the way every year is declared decisive by newspapers writing their New Year’s editorials, but in a very real way: (more…)

Wrong question, wrong answers

13 February 2005

The UK has decided which question will be asked in the EU Constitution referendum in, er, late 2006: “Should the United Kingdom approve the treaty establishing a constitution for the European Union?” The Dutch Parliament has just nominated the committee that will oversee the organisation of the Dutch EU referendum and also formulate its question. Similar processes have started in most countries where referendums will be held. Most will come up with a referendum question along the same lines as the United Kingdom, that is, roughly: Would you vote yes or no to the Treaty text signed by the government leaders?.

But is it correct to ask the question like this? Put in this way, it is clear what happens if a majority votes ‘yes’. But is it equally clear what it means to vote ‘no’? Hardly, of course… hence the debate that has started on precisely this issue in many countries, especially in the UK. The British government says the referendum is about British membership of the EU: voting ‘no’ would mean that Britain leaves the EU altogether. And while there are some on the far end of the ‘no’ who wholeheartedly agree, such “scaremongering” tends to upset many EU-moderates as well as those EU-sceptics who merely wish to see the EU transformed into a free trade zone.