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The man from Amsterdam: He say ‘Nee’


Hold up! Before you read on, please read this...

This post was published more than 15 years ago

I keep old posts on the site because I often enjoy reading old content on other people's sites. It can be interesting to see how views have changed over time: for example, how my strident teenage views have, to put it mildly, mellowed.

I'm not a believer in brushing the past under the carpet. I've written some offensive rubbish on here in the past: deleting it and pretending it never happened doesn't change that. I hope that stumbling across something that's 15 years old won't offend anyone anew, because I hope that people can understand that what I thought and felt and wrote about then is probably very different to what I think and feel and write about now. It's a relic of an (albeit recent) bygone era.

So, given the age of this post, please bear in mind:

  • My views may well have changed in the last 15 years. I have written some very silly things over the years, many of which I find utterly cringeworthy today.
  • This post might use words or language in ways which I would now consider highly inappropriate, offensive, embarrassing, or all three.
  • Factual information might be outdated.
  • Links might be broken, and embedded material might not appear properly.

Okay. Consider yourself duly warned. Read on...

Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker of Luxembourg, the current president of the European Union 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.

This 610th post was filed under: News and Comment, Politics.

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Comments and responses

Comment from Emmanuel Goldstein

    21.50, 04/06/2005

“I’ve never really imagined Brussels as a happy place anyway.”

Brussels is not a happy place, but that is irrelevant.

Jean-Claude lives and works in Leutzebuerg, and does guest appearances on German public TV chat shows.

Buy my book “THE THEORY AND PRACTICE OF OLIGARCHICAL COLLECTIVISM”, available at all good bookstores.

Comment from sjhoward (author of the post)

    01.51, 05/06/2005

I accept that Brussels not being a happy place normally is not relevant, it was just something of a aberration. And I didn’t intend for it to be read that Jean-Claude’s mood affected that of Brussels, or vice-versa. I certainly read the quotation as two separate points – whether or not that’s what the Beeb intended is something you’d have to ask them.

Comment from Carolus Magnus

    10.32, 05/06/2005

And according to the Bee Bee Cee,

“Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker has said he will resign if his country rejects the constitution.”

Comment from Carolus Magnus

    10.34, 05/06/2005

However, one should not forget that TEN countries have already ratified the constitution.


Comment from sjhoward (author of the post)

    12.25, 05/06/2005

Just fifteen to go then.

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