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ICG Risk Blog - [ Franco-Dutch constitutional referendum: degraded or abandoned Euro, "multi-polar" politics within the EU, Germany's departure, and degraded anti-terrorism efforts ]

Franco-Dutch constitutional referendum: degraded or abandoned Euro, "multi-polar" politics within the EU, Germany's departure, and degraded anti-terrorism efforts

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Euro-prattle regarding EU constitution treaty viability and the soundness of the Euro after the Franco-Dutch 'no' votes reminded me of the Dead Parrot (or the Pet Shoppe) skit in episode 8 of Monty Python's Flying Circus when Palin tells Cleese:

No no he's not dead, he's, he's restin'! Remarkable bird, the Norwegian Blue, idn'it, ay? Beautiful plumage!

Cleese's frustrated reply to Palin that, THIS IS AN EX-PARROT!! also applies to the treaty. It is almost academic interest to read the individual drivers affecting each member state (France and Netherlands) as if their amalgam brushed away the vote and its effects which I see as a degraded or abandoned Euro, "multi-polar" politics within the EU that degrade Europe's presence on the world stage, Germany's departure from the EU, and significantly degraded anti-terrorism efforts coupled with a continued stillborn independent force projection capacity.

While many said that ratification of the new EU constitution, requiring approval by all 25 members, would alter the manner in which the union operates, few noted that "a rejection [by any state] would throw Europe into a constitutional crisis":

For the first time, an individual would be appointed president of the European Council, overseeing the regular summits of the heads of government of the EU nations and their foreign ministers. The EU would itself have a foreign minister. The amended rules on majority voting would allow a measure to pass if 55 percent of the member states were in favor, so long as they represented 65 percent of the EU's population. And the EU would gain new powers in justice and home affairs, requiring cooperation among interior ministries on immigration, asylum, crime, and justice.

In Electoral buffeting in Europe, June 2004, I noted:

I see the original six signatories of the Treaty of Paris (France, West Germany, Italy, Belgium, Luxemburg and the Netherlands) as the core of European nations that had borne the brunt of fighting on what became the "allied side" of the post WW II divide. (France was intent on anchoring West Germany into western orbit, while blunting its military growth and so deflecting further Soviet ire.) As EC, and now EU, membership expanded southward and now eastward into former Warsaw Pact nations, it has been my opinion that it will be harder and harder for members to find common cause and effective collective policy. (They certainly will bridle under continued French hegemony of EU foreign policy.)

This is hardly the vision that rose with Jean Monnet (also here), arguably Europe's architect of union in the wake of WW II, who voiced the idea that European union was "was indispensable to the maintenance of peaceful relations." I have often wondered where Monnet himself drew the boundary on a functioning European organ.

Europe has grown past the capacity of its founding governance model as it arrives at a trifecta in which the EU constitution treaty and its impact on sovereignty, security, and economy; efforts to reach agreement on the 2007-2013 EU budget; and the blame that many Europeans place on the Euro for an economic slowdown and high unemployment conspire to cause doubt in the Euro-polity that their respective leaderships can be trusted to act in their best interests. (Observers in the UK and the continent note that the UK has done much better in terms of GNP growth and unemployment than continental Europe and it did not join the Euro bloc.)

With the UK, Ireland and Portugal signaling that they might defer their treaty referendums, and Danish polls showing the 'no' camp pulling ahead for their September referendum, the "risk of contagion" following the Franco-Dutch vote is very real. As I believe that the treaty is gone and that a crisis is in the making, if the 16-17 June summit in Brussels cannot reach agreement of a long-term budget then the direction of the postwar European integration model as we know it is certainly halted. 

While the constitution treaty dealt with governance and security issues and had no connection to the Euro established in 1999, the "rejection of the treaty by two EU founding members has raised questions about how committed European countries are to working together to make the single currency a success, and opened the door for Euroskeptics to question its existence." It should be remembered that the relative ease by which 12 EC member states surrendered their national currencies into the Euro was based on the premise of tighter economic and political integration. If the political integration has halted and possibly commenced a reversal, where is the commitment to a single currency in the face of charges that the Euro "has proved inadequate in the face of the economic slowdown, the loss of competitiveness and the job crisis." If the constitution is not there, and France is not there to sustain the Bonn-Paris axis, how does Germany respond to its situation of a major EU donor to an expanded less well-off membership during a period of economic malaise? I submit that it could leave.

Part 2

EU crisis escalates after referendums
By Carsten Lietz
Reuters
Friday, June 3, 2005; 11:32 AM

The French & Dutch Referendums
Background Question and Answer
Council on Foreign Relations
Updated: June 01, 2005

Dutch Reject European Charter
By Craig Whitlock
Washington Post
June 2, 2005

France Rejects European Constitution
By Craig Whitlock
Washington Post
May 30, 2005

Gordon Housworth



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