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Just days after the French rejected the EU constitution, the Dutch have done the same. Not that it was much of a surprise. Mr Juncker, President of the EU, is obviously not happy. The Beeb says
Mr Juncker seemed so distressed that he could hardly take in the fact of the second “No” vote. The mood in Brussels is deep gloom.
I’ve never really imagined Brussels as a happy place anyway. But maybe that’s just me.
Last time I wrote about this, when the French rejected the Constitution, I couldn’t come up with a viable solution to get around this impasse. Now I’ve come up with one. And it’s remarkably simple: Separate out the Constitution from the Treaty. Make the Constitution a short statement of self-evident rights and truths – which one would expect to be in a Constitution – and then have a separate treaty with all the legal eagle stuff in it. Then you can treat the Treaty as a Treaty, reforming it and remolding it over time until you eventually find the right mix, and the Constitution should sail through and easily be ratified by all twenty-five countries.
To the papers… The Guardian still appears to be mourning the loss, though it’s overcome its initial anger: “Crushing defeat leaves EU vision in tatters”; it also appears to think we’re “facing the prospect of a protracted period of recrimination, conflict and crisis”; The FT is somewhat less emotional: “Europe in turmoil as the Dutch vote No”.
Judging by the state of The Guardian, you’d expect The Indy to be in floods – and yet. whilst it’s clearly not a happy chappy (“The Netherlands has delivered a crushing “no” vote on the European constitution and plunged the EU into a crisis of confidence unprecedented in almost five decades of European integration”), it does at least seem to be looking forward, rather than excessively wailing over spilt milk.
I’m really quite surprised at The Guardian’s reaction to all of this, and for the first time in a long while feel slightly alienated by it. I don’t think I’ve ever seen this degree of apparent grief, bordering on depression, from a national newspaper – and particularly not the Guardian. It’s so far gone that it’s bordering on parody – I almost expect to see the Constitution get a full page obit.
So where will things go from here? It’s hard to say, because this is European politics, in which logic seems to play no part. After a brief period of depression, the politicians will just have to regroup and see where they can take us. They’ll probably try redrafting a bit, and trying to get it past the countries again. And failing. And then they’ll have to do something pro-active, like reconsider the need for a Constitution and what should be in it. And then we might just get somewhere.