Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
Display:
I have also proposed this before:
The treaty shall be put to a vote by referendum simultaneously in all EU members states.

The result of the referendum will be binding if at least 50% of all EU citizens cast a valid vote in it.

The treaty shall come into force only if at least 50% of valid votes in a binding referendum support the treaty. In that case,

  • An EU member state shall be considered to have approved the treaty if it is supported by at least 50% of valid votes in that member state, and the number of valid votes in that member state is at least 50% of the eligible voters.
  • An EU member state where the treaty is not approved shall hold a second referendum within 5 years, with the choices being approval of the treaty or withdrawal from the EU according to the provisions of the treaty.
  • A transitory institutional regime shall apply as long as there are any remaining EU Member States which have not approved the treaty and have not yet held a second referendum.


A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Feb 21st, 2006 at 06:22:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Unfortunately, we'd need a new treaty to approve that treaty. You'd have to have referendum in Ireland and probably a few other states to approve its terms. So we'd have a referendum about the terms of a referendum. You try getting turnout to vote in favour of that.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Feb 21st, 2006 at 06:24:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, I know... But, seriously, can you think of a better alternative?

My proposal is great for everyone, even the eurosceptics! It provides an explicit mechanism for leaving the EU agreeably.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Feb 21st, 2006 at 06:26:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A mini-treaty:

  1. The EU bill of rights (Title II of the current treaty).
  2. Union membership rules (Title  IX of the current treaty, including Article I-60 on Voluntary withdrawal from the Union)
  3. The 2009 European Parliament will be a constitutional assembly
  4. Referendum rules, as above.


A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Feb 21st, 2006 at 06:44:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If you can't get this approved, there is no point in talking about an EU constitution for the time being. It should be attempted: we need a definitive answer to the question of whether the EU is ready for a constitution, and we need it by the end of 2008 at the latest.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Feb 21st, 2006 at 06:54:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In my view one of the main problems is that the people comes in so late in the process and thus does not really get a choice other then accept or get out.

I would like it much more if the people got something to say in forming the constitution. What I would like to see is a constitutional assembly (why not the parliament) that creates a draft of the basic structure. Then the national parliaments and/or the national governments and possibly the commission gets to suggest changes or amendments. Hopefully they try to unite on the changes proposals (if Poland and Austria has a similar suggestion they should unite them to one). The change to abolish a paragraph is suggestable.

Finally it is put to the people of the European Union in a  vote by ranking the suggestions on each part. Then the vote is counted using the Condorcet method. Then you have a draft that still needs to be approved by the normal process but it should be easier as the incentive to give the politicians a good kick is less if it is the people who has decided the constitution.

The process should increase the will of those involved to make it an understandable constitution, one that deals only with the decision-making processes of the union and the safeguards of democracy (individual rights and so forth). It would be what most people envision when they think about a constitution, something that could actually be read and understood in schools.

But I do not see in my crystalball any inclination that any national or european politicians would like to turn over any power to the serfs.

And there is of course the possibility that it might end up a useless pile of jibberish if the proposals are not well thought.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Tue Feb 21st, 2006 at 10:57:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The European Convention was established with 105 members, chaired by former French president Valéry Giscard d'Estaing. Its members were drawn from the national parliaments of member states and candidate countries, the European Parliament, the European Commission, and representatives of heads of state and government. The Convention met for the first time in February 2002, and met thereafter in plenary session once or twice per month. It deliberated in public in the European Parliament building in Brussels. (Wikipedia)
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Feb 21st, 2006 at 11:17:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The fault with the Giscard d'Estaing convention was that its members represented institutions not the peoples of Europe directly.

There should be a new convention, composed of directly elected representatives to produce a document to be submitted to the people directly for ratification. Neither the existing European institutions nor the national governments and parliaments should be involved at all, once the constitution making process has been agreed and started.

I know this is a novel idea. I believe it is called democracy.

by Gary J on Tue Feb 21st, 2006 at 11:49:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But you can't do that without referendums and parliamentary approvals. It's called democracy you see.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Feb 21st, 2006 at 11:55:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I appreciate that before my proposed exercise in European democracy, each member nation would have to approve the procedure (as an exercise of national democracy).

In some countries, like Ireland, there would have to be a national referendum. It would probably be wise for other members, which are not compelled by a constitutional provision to hold a referendum, to do so anyway.

If there is insufficient consensus to agree a process to produce a constitution (either my idea or some other) then it is probably not going to be possible to agree and ratify any constitutional text in the next ten years or so. We will just have to limp on with the existing treaties.

by Gary J on Tue Feb 21st, 2006 at 03:39:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That's all very well, but realistically, you're asking Ireland (for example) to spend a lot of money, time, effort and political will to get out and pass something like this. Not because people don't want it to pass, simply because they've got to be convinced to take time off work, close the schools (traditionally used as polling stations) and so on. The no vote will be much better motivated - anything to stop the assorted evil ones from taking over than the larger but not as well motivated yes vote.

Oh, and at the same time telling them that they'll have to do it all again next year.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Feb 21st, 2006 at 03:53:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
How about voting on Sunday like oh-so-Caholic Spain does? Oh, wait, Ireland actually takes its catholicism seriously.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Feb 21st, 2006 at 03:56:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Jaysus no, we're too hung-over on a Sunday.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Feb 21st, 2006 at 03:57:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
once the constitution making process has been agreed and started
That is exactly the point of most of the discussion of this diary. Is there a popular will to have a constitution in the first place? How can that be ascertained? If there is, how do you get the EU member states to agree to a constitutional process? As Colman points out, you always end up meeting the same difficulty, which is that you need a mini-treaty with a round of referenda or parliamentary approvals in order to kick-start the process.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Feb 21st, 2006 at 12:01:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I agree there must be two stages. The first is to agree a procedure, by whatever national methods may be appropriate. If that is impossible then the whole constitution making exercise is finished for many years (I would suggest ten or more). Another generation of politicians will have to revisit the issue in the light of experience with the defects of the existing system.

If we get a procedure in place then the second stage is to implement the procedure and consider ratifying whatever text is produced.

The people of Europe (and the peoples of the individual member states) must "own" both stages. The top down model for the drafting of the previous constitutional draft has failed and cannot be revived.

Obviously the more member states there are the more difficult it will be to produce anything which every member will approve.

Another approach may be to just produce individual amendments to defective parts of the existing structure, instead of aiming at a single comprehensive new document. Perhaps we could hold amendment referendums at the same time as European Parliament elections.

by Gary J on Tue Feb 21st, 2006 at 04:01:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Gary J, does this qualify?

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Feb 21st, 2006 at 12:03:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I am not sure what you are suggesting qualifies.
by Gary J on Tue Feb 21st, 2006 at 04:04:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I am a little puzzled because what I am proposing is a two-stage procedure that addresses all your concerns.

First you need a new, very brief treaty (agreed by the national governments and then ratified by the usual combination of referenda and parliamentary votes) which basically says that the 2009 European Parliament will be elected as a constitutional convention, and sets up an EU-wide referendum with explicit rules making it possible for a majority of the EU to proceed even if some member states don't approve the constitution (thereby dropping out of the EU).

You have to start with a treaty if you want to prevent the national governments from refusing to ratify the constitution that comes out of the assembly.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Feb 21st, 2006 at 04:24:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sorry, I was focusing too narrowly on one of your posts.

Your proposal is a possible way forward. I would myself consider the European Parliament to be far too large a body to serve as an effective constituent assembly. I suppose it might work if the constitution was prepared by a committee within the European Parliament, but part of the problem of the last convention was that a small group (M. Giscard d'Estaing) had too much control over the drafting process.

We really need a body small enough to be a deliberative institution, but not too small to be reasonably representative.

As each member state has to approve the constitution, irrespective of size, I would have a small delegation of say five people from each member state.

by Gary J on Wed Feb 22nd, 2006 at 10:41:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Ah, but there is no reason that every state needs to approve the new constitution. With my "mini-treaty", only 50% of the population needs to, and some states may drop out.

The EP will have other business than the constitution to attend to in their 5-year tenure. Just have a committee draft a proposal and then the parliament can debate it and amend it before a general vote. Then it's submitted to an EU-wide referendum.

A committee with one member per political party would be sufficient (as there are no trans-national political parties) to ensure the broadest representation of national and political views in the committee.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Feb 22nd, 2006 at 10:48:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I am well aware of the history of the EU constitution.

The point of my comment was that I believe that a referendum forming the constitution instead of just deciding (yes or no) would be a democratic way forward.

I further believe that the whole process needs to be redone because what a non-deciding assembly writes rests on what they believe can be accepted by whoever decides.

In conclusion, I believe the problem with writing a constitution for the European Union rests with its institutions and politicians, not with its people. I think there is a will for a constitution among the peoples of Europe that is not reflected among its politicians.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Tue Feb 21st, 2006 at 01:15:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh, was the question of the thread if the present constitution is dead?

Yes it is quite dead, and has been since the french non. It just kept moving of inertia. Dead stuff do that.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Tue Feb 21st, 2006 at 03:01:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, the constitution was actually born dead because it was a result of the angst after that miscarriage called the Treaty of Nice. When the Convention realized what monster they had concocted, someone (maybe Giscard himself?) had the brilliant idea to make it more attractive (?) by calling it a "Constitution". But the people are not that stupid.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Feb 21st, 2006 at 03:59:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If you phrase it like that, I get angsty visions myself. A miscarriage, a stillbirth... What's next? Abortion?
by Nomad on Tue Feb 21st, 2006 at 08:23:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Next they drawn the EU in a bathtub.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Feb 22nd, 2006 at 06:05:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I resume you meant to say "drown" rather than trying to evoke some sort of bizarre still-life?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Feb 22nd, 2006 at 06:08:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Ai rait inglis güiz a cic espanis áxent.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Feb 22nd, 2006 at 06:14:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm just thinking of that famous image of the French revolutionary dead in the bathtub. Or whatever it was.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Feb 22nd, 2006 at 06:27:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
La Morte de Marat


A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Feb 22nd, 2006 at 06:29:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That's the one.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Feb 22nd, 2006 at 06:34:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think you hit on a powerful visual meme here:

Europa holding a pen over the text of the constitution, versus Marat committing suicide in the bathtub, holding a pen and a letter.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Feb 22nd, 2006 at 06:40:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Interesting resume.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Feb 22nd, 2006 at 06:23:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Heh.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Feb 22nd, 2006 at 06:26:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]

Display:

Occasional Series