Friday, September 05, 2003
On:Message, Repeat, Ad Infinitum - 5th September 2003, 23.13

It is clear that many politicians follow the philosophy of repetition. If you repeat your message countless times, your audience will eventually accept and acquiesce. The latest incarnation of this philosophy has become a thread in European political announcements this summer as the supporters of the European Convention defend their achievement, the draft of the European Constitution. Giscard D'Estaing is one of the most vocal defenders understandably and his latest claim is that,

Europe's citizens will reject a draft EU constitution if their leaders water it down in the coming months, the document's chief author, Valery Giscard d'Estaing, told the European parliament Wednesday.

He even claimed that these changes could "detract" from the Constitution's "brevity". In his speech to the European Parliament, D'Estaing did note that the intergovernmental conference would operate under time constraints and the "need for unanimity"; pressures that could prevent countries wishing to dissent from the grand projet.

However, Romano Prodi was already bidding to reduce the intergovernmental component within this process and strengthen the hand of the Commission. His latest proposals have suggested that the areas of unanimity required to construct EU policy should be reduced; that the national veto should be removed for indirect and corporate taxation; that Member States' budgets should be 'coordinated'; and that external relations for the EU should remove duplication (a reference to individual embassies and ambassadors, perhaps?).

D'Estaing did identify the one area where the European political class cannot control this process. That area is the ratification of the Constitution through referenda held in Member States. Both the Dutch and the Portuguese have indicated recently in polls that they favour a vote on the Constitution. This process is encouraging since public opinion has turned away from European integration as problems of immigration, economic decline and terrorism have come to the fore. Do the political classes believe that voters will accept the Constitution because the 'benefits' of European integration are self-evident and an affirmative vote will follow once the arguments are publicised?

Let us hope that this Bonapartist technocracy is about to receive a bloody nose!


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