Sunday, November 09, 2003
Fading Horizons

What do you say when arch-federalist and all-Belgian Belgian, Jean-Luc Dehaene, tries to lower expectations of the intergovernmental conference and cautions against a successful ratification of the Constitution.

Mr Dehaene was not overly optimistic about the progress of the ongoing intergovernmental conference (IGC). He welcomed the constructive and efficient way in which this IGC had been prepared by a Convention for the first time, but expressed concern that the Member States could unravel the Convention's draft text. He warned participants not to expect too much from the IGC.

However, in recent talks between France and Spain on the issue of weighting votes, neither party were able to come to agreement over the issue of qualified majority voting.

The possibility of failure is now commanding attention from the Blairites who have invested their time and energy in this process. A pol's survival instinct would be to recognise the cul-de-sac and hope that events elsewhere prevent the issue from ever precipitating a crisis. However, Blair's pro-European ideology is proven by his wish to keep digging by asking the French to stop their own people from having a say on this issue.

British diplomats have appealed to France not to hold a referendum on the new European constitution to avoid embarrassing Tony Blair. One high-ranking British official has privately told senior French diplomats that it would be "unhelpful" to Mr Blair if Jacques Chirac, the French president, decided to go ahead with a poll in France.

This interference demonstrates the weakness of the Blairite position since examples of referenda in other major European countries will undermine his refusenik stance. Our Prime Minister also invites contempt for attempting to prevent the people of another state from exercising their democratic vote in order to strengthen his political position.

(9th November 2003, 21.43)


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