Thursday, July 14, 2005

Not all the eggs in one basket

Kai Littmann asks an interesting question: what's the point of Luxembourg's Yes? After France's No, Netherland's No, and Britain removing the question from the table, why should anyone continue to vote on the European Constitution. For Littmann, the question should continue to be asked:
Que la construction européenne ne s’arrête pas aux limites géographiques et mentales françaises. Que la question de l’avenir de l’Union reste d’actualité. Que les gens aient voté oui ou non. Qu’il est peut-être plus urgent que jamais de se doter d’une vision de l’avenir. Que l’on attend toujours celle des leaders du non. Car si plan B il doit y avoir, c’est avant tout – et en toute logique - à eux de le proposer. Que les appels à l’intéressement citoyen ne doivent pas rester lettre morte, à l’état de vieux slogans poussiéreux. Parce que l’Europe ne se construit pas qu’à vingt-cinq chefs d’Etats et de gouvernement mais à 455 millions.

[Don't let the European constitution stop at France's geographic and mental limits. Let the question of the EU's future remain in public discourse, Let the people have a yes or no vote. ... Because Europe will not be made by 25 heads of state but by 455 million people.]
Ultimately Littmann is correct. If the problem with the EU, and by extension the constitution, is that it is insufficiently democratic, withdrawing the question from public discourse (as Blair did) only recreates the problem that alienated French and Dutch voters in the first place.

The approval of Luxembourgeois should not be surprising. The politicians of the duchy have oriented themselves towards Europe. Regions of France, like Alsace and Brittany, that placed importance in the European institutions for their own development, similarly voted for the constitution, against the voices of the rest of the nation.

Despite the apparent lack of progress on the constitution, the development of European politics can continue. Unification is not the only model for European development. Indeed, it was not the first that was employed. The "fathers" -- Schuman, Monnet, Adenauer -- put their faith in integration. Europe would emerge as nations became entangled with one another. Instead of creating centralized organizations, they would cooperate through multiple, federal organizations; not just the European Coal and Steel Community (which became the EC and, later, the EU), but also in the Council for Europe and other groups.

Some of these organizations are more European than the EU. The aforementioned Council for Europe, which upholds human rights and conducts social and cultural programs, has 46 members, including would-be EU members Turkey and Ukraine, and also Russia. Unfortunately, the project of EU unity endangers the viability of the Council for Europe. Perhaps the rejection of the constitution will lead Europeans to appreciate the decentered, multipolar, overlapping institutions that also exist, and not see the EU as the only game in town.


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