by Jerome a Paris
Fri Jan 19th, 2007 at 09:46:38 AM EST
Angela Merkel's recent announcement to push for an ajusted version of the EU Constitution is visibly embarrassing London, whose government has gleefully tried to bury the document ever since the French voted "non" last year.
The Independent is quite honest in London's position:
Britain made it plain yesterday that it wants as few changes to the current system as possible, to avoid the need for a popular vote, and called into question the need for any new treaty at all.
The Times was even blunter - and honest:
Britain is aiming to scupper German plans to revive the European constitution in a direct assault on the main project of the EU presidency of Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor.
Such a campaign, if successful, would free Tony Blair's successor from his promise to hold a referendum on the document.
But now I am seeing another version emerge, that tries to pin the blame on the French - and cheekily (and without any basis) attributes that criticism to the Germans.
The logic is simple.
Ségolène Royal has stated explicitly that France should ratify any new constitution proposal by referendum. In order to win such referendum, the Constitution would need (to appear) to take into account more social preoccupations. Such shift would make the Constitution unsellable in the UK, while the ratification by referendum would impose that Britain also run a referendum - ensuring rejection. Thus Ségolène Royal is directly threatening a new European crisis because the Constitution would fail again.
Merkel fears Royal victory could threaten constitution
Chancelleries in the capitals have waited for months to learn what the delphic Ms Royal thinks about Europe. Now *some* are dismayed by what they are hearing.
First came the Socialist candidate’s disclosure on Wednesday that she would put any rewritten version of the constitutional treaty to another French referendum in 2009.
Ms Royal now says she wants to add a “social protocol” to the treaty, enshrining Europe’s commitment to workers’ rights, and to change the European Central Bank’s statute, requiring it to focus on growth as well as inflation.
Ms Merkel’s unstated plan was to scale back and rename the constitution to make it appear less ambitious and less threatening, allowing the bloc’s 27 member states to sidestep public opinion and ratify the text with parliamentary votes.
If elected, a President Royal would wreck that plan. Not only would the new text be subject to an unpredictable French vote midway through her presidency in 2009, but her decision would put pressure on other countries to hold polls of their own.
Charles Grant, director of the Centre for European Reform, fears that French voters could be disappointed and vote No for a second time. “Ségolène Royal is taking risks with Europe and France’s position in Europe,” he said.
Sego's playing with fire - who will get burned?
It may seem like clever domestic politics, but Ségolène Royal's plan to re-run France's referendum on the EU constitution looks like a disaster waiting to happen: both for France and Europe.
By announcing a poll in France in 2009, she is increasing the likelihood that the EU will never have a new institutional settlement. If France has a referendum then the pressure will be on others - like the UK, Netherlands and Poland - to follow suit.
A No vote is certain somewhere along the line, leaving Europe in a state of turmoil, possibly leading to a split and the development of a "core" group of countries committed to more integration. Although some in Paris, Brussels and Berlin like the idea, most agree it would be better for the Union to stick together if possible.
Who the fuck are they kidding? Anybody in London that pretends to care about the weakening of France's position in Europe is ... is ... ... words fail me.
And blaming Germans for concerns that exist only in the entourage of Brown is dishonest and blatantly manipulative.
But it simply shows the worry that, once again, the UK will find itself with its back against the wall. A new attempt at a Constitution will need to make some steps (possibly small, possibly only symbolic) to address the grievances of the French. If Germany is serious about reviving the Constitution - and it appears that they are, and it appears that Brown believes that too - then these steps will be taken - in fact, all the steps necessary to ensure a French "Oui" vote will be taken, provided that they are acceptable to the core European countries.
Which of course means a Constitution that is less acceptable to neolib Brown. And, as we all know, if the UK votes against the Constitution, the result will not be to retry until a version acceptable to London is found, but to kick the UK out.
That's the fear - and that game of blaming France for "endangering Europe" simply hides the very real threat endangering the UK's convenient position as a Trojan Horse inside Europe.
Go, Angela, go.