Monday, May 19, 2003
La Haine - 19th May 2003, 22.17

Hain recently called the campaign for a referendum on the European Constitution a non-starter:

Mr Hain was asked on The Politics Show on BBC TV if he understood why people were worried about the threat to sovereignty. He said it was "not surprising when they are fed a lot of baloney by some of our newspapers and some of our Conservative opposition and a lot of lies frankly about what is really going on".

However, this ill-tempered Chiracism, served to enrage Eurosceptic opposition and has provided wind for the sails of the referendum campaign in the Labour Party. Blair's own MP's wish to join the campaign publicised in the Torygraph and provides a bridge between the old Left and the soft Left, since they can safely hide their European credentials behind the figleaf of democracy. They will join the Liberal Democrats and Tories who have already hitched the horses to the bandwagon.

However, the Convention remains bitterly divided between the supporters of the Commission and the larger countries. Despite agreement on an EU Foreign Minister, the Convention has not resolved its differences in other areas such as the minority support for the role of a full-time President, and proposals to extend the lifetime of the Convention.

Even worse, the willingness of the elites to hold referenda on their new Constitution is an act of supreme hubris or an inability to recognise that their electorates may, as a theme, say 'No'. (like drugs). D'Estaing is very scared of his own coutrymen - the French.

French voters could throw out a new European Union constitutional treaty if it intrudes too much into national life, Valéry Giscard d'Estaing, president of the European Convention, warned yesterday. Mr Giscard d'Estaing admitted that a French referendum on the new treaty, which he is in the final stages of drafting, was one of the biggest dangers facing his project. Mr Giscard d'Estaing will present the draft treaty to EU leaders on June 20, and the final product is expected to be agreed by heads of government in the first half of 2004. George Parker, Brussels - Taken from the FT (subscription, no link).

Blair is meeting Giscard D'Estaing this evening and their mealy-mouthed approach is already clear. The government has retreated to the redline areas of foreign policy, defence policy and fiscal policy. All else will be centralised. But the PMOS (Prime Minister's Official Spokesman) stated clearly that the Constitution could only be accepted or rejected as a whole document. When asked if Britain would veto the document if it removed sovereign control of these redline areas, the PMOS did not verify this.

Questioned as to whether the UK would have a veto on the final document or whether we would be given the chance to veto individual elements of it, the PMOS said that we wanted to accept the document as a whole. Asked if he was implying that we could veto the entire constitution because it breached our red lines, the PMOS said that the draft constitutional treaty which M. Giscard would present in June would be the starting point for the IGC which was due to begin in the autumn. The final constitutional treaty had to be agreed unanimously. Therefore, each member state had a veto over the entirety of the treaty. Asked if he was saying that the idea we could veto individual elements of the treaty was simply wrong and that we would have to veto the entire treaty if we disagreed with any aspect of it, the PMOS suggested that a false analysis lay behind the question, namely the idea that a majority of countries wanted to go into territory where we did not want to venture. That was simply not the case. Yes, some might - but not the majority. In the same way, some might want to hold a referendum - but not a majority. There seemed to be a mindset which still thought of Europe as a community with a membership of six and where one or two countries were able to dominate. That was completely wrong. We were talking about a Europe of twenty-five - and the quicker people understood that, the better.

He didn't even answer the question.


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