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Lying in Wait for the Dutch Tsunami…After the French Earthquake

Michael Youlton • 31 May 2005

Bertie Ahern is not known for his flamboyant use of English. So when he, following the resounding defeat of his 'mate' Chirac, says "European integration must and will continue despite this unfortunate episode….", he is expressing more an ardent wish of the powerful rather than an objective evaluation of reality. He is basically repeating what he told us, after last week's State execution of the two Dublin would-be Robin Hoods: " …..this is not the time for weak-kneed responses…" There are, however, despite Bertie's arrogance, serious questions afoot - and to this end I would like to start a debate of the future of united Europe with the readers / supporters of The Blanket.

Among the key issues that the Eurocrats would have to consider almost immediately, and we must also reflect on, are Turkey's forthcoming application for EU membership and the clarification of the level of EU funding for each member State in the context of the 4th Framework Programme. These two issues were probably top of the list of concerns in the French NON camp.

I am not concerned in this space here with proposals to repeat the French referendum, a-la maniere irlandaise, as Giscard d' Estaing put it on Monday or supposed footnotes of the Constitutional Treaty stating that if 20 out of the 25 member States vote YES then the Council of Ministers must meet to decide "the way to proceed"!! We'll cross those bridges when we come to them. The key question I want to pose and deal with is whether it is possible to talk of a [united] Europe without the full and willing participation of European women and men.

Rejection or re-negotiation

The political content of the very diverse French NO camp was made up of two main main categories: on the one hand, those who objected to the present content of the Constitutional Treaty but put forward the idea of a process of re-negotiation and, on the other, those who rejected entirely the project of a federal Europe which they said underpinned the Treaty. VOTE NO was the point of unity between the two sections…there, however, the unity ended and questions must now begin. It is interesting to note that both points of view co-exist here in Ireland amongst the political parties, like Sinn Fein or a section of the Greens and a small minority of the Labour Party who have publicly stated their opposition to or, at best, their anxiety about the Constitutional Treaty project.

The leader of the French Communist Party, for example, one of the main constituents of the NO camp, when asked about her Party's specific proposals, responded in the most fascinating manner. She said: "Jacques Chirac, the French President, must now meet with all the constituent parts of the NO camp, listen to our demands, and draft a chart that he should propose and argue for to the rest of the European leaders - so that the project can be renegotiated!!" Quite a number of French nationalists, like Philippe de Villiers, for example, started singing from the same hymn sheet, projecting Chirac as "the representative of the French NO camp" in Europe - can you see Bertie, representing the Irish opposition, asking for a re-negotiation of the Treaty that he, himself, did so much to cook last year?

The issue of the neo-liberal content of the Constitutional Treaty was another unifying line in the No camp in France. In this respect, it is significant that the European Confederation of Industry, based in Geneva, took an immediate stand, asking for the "continuation" of the process of unification. Their request was immediately echoed by the Prime Minister of Luxemburg, who holds the current presidency of the Union. Faced by a second Dutch Tsunami tomorrow June 1st, he stated glibly: "We are continuing on the path we have travelled so far"!!

The French NO camp argued forcefully that Brussels must reject its current neo-liberal approach regarding privatisations and return to the social justice vision argued so forcefully (and agreed) in Lisbon a few years ago. The revolutionary Left components of the No camp, argued, for example, that there should be a unified minimum wage across the 25 member States. The ultra-Right, on the other hand, based its arguments on the fear of foreigners coming to France (particularly from Turkey) and the migration of French companies into areas with lower labour costs. Xenophobia and imperial nationalism were the two catch cries of Le Pen and his cohorts.

And what do the Eurocrats do now?

Francoise Le Baille, spokeswoman for the EU, responding to the question of what is the next move for Brussels, said: "The result of the French referendum extends to a whole variety of areas…we must carefully examine the consequences. The message sent to Brussels by the French people will be discussed by the Commissioners and will be analysed fully by the next Brussels Summit due to take place on June 16/17." And she concluded: " It would be unwise to draw too many conclusions right now"!

It is possible that a number of member States that have not as yet taken a decision on the Constitutional Treaty may eventually decide that it would not make too much sense to continue with the process. It is also fair to say that the re-negotiation agenda has not got too many supporters right now. The prospect of a machination repeating the 2nd round Maastricht vote in Denmark and the Nice debacle in Ireland does not appear very practical either.

One of the most likely scenarios would be the prospect of a reinforced co-operation, a scheme that has surfaced before: this would allow certain member states to proceed together, without the majority, in certain areas. Another figment would be a mini-Treaty, with the Brits laughing all the way to Washington behind it. The June 16/17 Summit must be watched very carefully. With France on the canvas, with Germany and Poland looking at elections by the end of the summer, with the Netherlands suffering its own tsunami, and with Italy, Greece, Portugal and Spain dreaming of the 4th Framework funds which are likely to be delayed now……and, as these lines are being written, with the ever so popular Havel from the Czech Republic saying: "The result is out…they have lost and they must accept defeat…" - the Summit is gonna be a sight to behold.

Any responses from The Blanket community?



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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent



All censorships exist to prevent any one from challenging current conceptions and existing institutions. All progress is initiated by challenging current conceptions, and executed by supplanting existing institutions. Consequently the first condition of progress is the removal of censorships.
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Index: Current Articles

31 May 2005

Other Articles From This Issue:

Justice is the Right of All Our Victims
Gemma McCartney

Quis Separabit? The Short Strand/Markets UDA
Anthony McIntyre

Civil Law as an Instrument of Resistance
Peter Mason

A Salute to Comrades
Dolours Price

Behaviour of Young Gets Worse
David Adams

Recognising Similarities, Delivering for the People
Mick Hall

One Republican Party
Dr John Coulter

Venezuela: A Common Brotherhood
Tomas Gorman

May Day versus Loyalty Day
Mary La Rosa

One Eyed Morality
Anthony McIntyre

Lying in Wait for the Dutch Tsunami…After the French Earthquake

Michael Youlton

22 May 2005

How Those In Power Respond
Anthony McIntyre

Seeking Clarity — And Safety
Justice for Jimmy Campaign

Behind the Betrayal
Philip Ferguson

Self-Deception and Distortion
Tomas Maguire

Civil Case/Witch Hunt
N. Corey

No Entry
Anthony McIntyre

The Moral Reason Never to Tell
Dr John Coulter

Venezuela: Beginning to Borrow Some Revolution
Tomas Gorman

Dangerous Drugs
Sean Fleming

Rebel City
Liam O Ruairc



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