July 23, 2003

Nations must vote on EU constitution

Pedro Schwartz says referendums on the proposed "Constitution" in each and every E.U. member state are essential:

No European, however enthusiastic for a united Europe, should overlook the shortcomings of the constitution produced by Valéry Giscard d'Estaing's convention. Under the guise of bringing together the various treaties on which the European Union is based, the draft magnifies some of the defects that have made the EU a byword for bureaucratic intrusiveness. It steers towards the kind of political centralisation and imposed uniformity that has given Brussels a bad name. More importantly, the constitution fails to make the fundamental principles of a market economy one of its central tenets.

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Mr Giscard d'Estaing, Gerhard Schröder, the German chancellor, and the Italian government, which holds the EU presidency, have made it clear that they will brook no unpicking of the compromises achieved in the convention. Their aim is to change nothing in this unsatisfactory document. So the only way to force Europe's political and bureaucratic elites to change the proposed constitution is to demand a referendum in each and every state of the Union. Only when ordinary voters are asked to give their consent will Europe have a constitution that entrenches the notion of individual freedom.