EU President Jean-Claude Juncker says a rejection by French voters of the European constitution would not mean its rejection by Europe. 'Non' does not mean no. "The European process does not come to a halt today." Europolitix reports:
"It may be in France that the no camp has won but if they were to be asked to produce a new text they would be incapable of doing that," he said on Sunday night. I am still very much in doubt when I look at this very mixed response in France. If we were to add up all the votes of those who wanted ‘more Europe’ as a yes then I think that we would have had a yes vote. It is therefore impossible to renegotiate Europe under those conditions."
Leader of the European Parliament’s largest centre-right political bloc, Hans-Gert Poettering urged EU leaders to keep the constitution on track at a June 16 Brussels summit. “In the end European heads of state and government will have to evaluate the overall result of the ratification process and will have to examine all possibilities on whether and in which way the constitution, or at least important parts of it, can still become legal reality,” he said.
Samizdata notes that even a second rejection by the Dutch would not prevent the draft European constitution (a document Tim Hames in the London Times called "a cross between the Berlin telephone directory and the prophecies of Nostradamus") from marching onward in some form.
In short, the authors conclude that, in the event of one or both countries voting "no", the ratification process should be neither suspended nor abandoned. They assert that all member states have expressed a commitment to proceed with ratification by virtue of Declaration 30, appended to the Constitutional Treaty. Member states cannot unilaterally or collectively decide to change the ratification process.
Thus, member states which have not already ratified should continue with the process whence, once 20 members have done so, the matter should be referred to the European Council.
In the meantime, the authors caution that "the European Union must not remain paralysed". Rather, they say, "it must continue and intensify its efforts to relaunch its policies, even by implementing in advance, where possible, the provisions of the Treaty that do not meet with open opposition".
Thus, the considered response in the event of a rejection of the constitution should be "full steam ahead". Member states should implement it even faster than they are doing already.
Very helpful. I wish I could be equally helpful in return on this question:
So what, precisely, do we have to do to stop this thing?
Juncker himself put his finger on the key problem. "It may be in France that the no camp has won but if they were to be asked to produce a new text they would be incapable of doing that." Despite the French rejection of the proposed Constitution, there is no institutional equivalent of the Brussels bureaucracy advocating an alternative EU vision or the vision of no EU at all. In other words, the European 'process' remains a one-party show and the French rejection has no more significance than Kim Il Sung's failure to get a certain percentage of votes. Interesting but irrelevant if he is the only candidate.
One axiom from the Watergate years was that it was "the coverup that gets you". In this case, it is not the rejection by the French voters that is most significant but the failure of the rejection to have any significance at all. The cavalier dismissal of the French vote describes the 'process' for what it is: a project in the hands of an elite. The real challenge for Europeans, especially Eastern Europeans and the British, is to articulate an alternative vision for the Continent. The European vision needs a second party in order to make up a debate.