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Problems for European Constitution

Added 31 May 2005 View full list    Print version    
French voters have offered a resounding 'non' to the adoption of the European Constitution.

From the beginning of the modern European project, France has been at the heart of pushing for greater integration.

A 55 percent French vote against the adoption of the Constitution has come as a blow to the country's President and political establishment and will present a major challenge to Europe’s politicos generally, as they seek to discern where to take Europe next.

Later this week, the Dutch will cast their vote in a similar referendum. Most pundits expect another 'no' vote.

Where has the Constitution vote come undone?

Some media and political observers blame the size of the document - which weighs in with more than 300 pages. This is far more than most people will be willing to read, especially given the legal terminology which fills most pages.

Others cite the French feeling that the document pushes Europe more in the direction of a laissez-faire, capitalist economic region. This runs counter to the traditional mainland European system of social democratic governance, with its emphasis on state regulation of services.

'I fail to see,' says social commentator Mal Fletcher, 'how a document which is more than 300 pages in length could be described as favouring a laissez-faire approach to anything!'

'This, for me, is a reflection of the real challenge facing European societies today. They are so over-regulated that they stifle creative endeavour, risk-taking, decision-making and forward movement.'

Debate about the reasons for the French vote, and its ramifications for Europe generally, will continue for weeks and months to come. One way or the other, most pundits agree that this is something of a turning point in the modern European story.

(For the full editorial on this site, click here.)

Keywords: News | French vote | European Constitution | 55 percent | 'no' vote | France | political establishment | referendum | Dutch | Mal Fletcher

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