Thursday, June 02, 2005

EU Leaders May Scrap Constitution

From AP:

European leaders faced the possibility of having to scrap the proposed EU constitution Thursday after Dutch voters rejected it by a massive margin, voicing their concern over dwindling national identity in a rapidly expanding union and increasingly powerful bureaucrats.

The outcome in the Netherlands from the referendum Wednesday — three days after a similar vote in France — was likely to halt the European momentum, which had been welcomed by some as creating a new world power but disdained by others as smothering their cultures in a vast superstate.

EU leaders have stressed that the constitution — which needs approval from all 25 EU nations either by referendum or parliamentary vote to take effect — cannot be renegotiated. But the EU Commission in Brussels said Thursday that leaders would use a June 16-17 summit to discuss the possibility of crafting a new constitution.

Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende conceded defeat Wednesday night and said his government would accept the will of the people. He acknowledged the huge gap that has emerged between the politicians and the electorate.

"The idea of Europe has lived for the politicians, but not the Dutch people. That will have to change," he said. "We will need to bring across the message that there are doubts here about the fast pace of change, the Dutch identity and other, financial, concerns."

"The verdict of these referendums now raises profound questions for all of us about the future direction of Europe," British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said in London.

Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi said EU laws, regulations and bureaucracy could now be up for discussion.

"One can naturally discuss certain questions, the too many laws, the too many regulations, the bureaucracy," he told reporters.

With 99.8 percent of the Dutch ballots counted, unofficial results showed 61.6 percent voted "no," while 38.4 percent said "yes." The level of opposition and the turnout of 63 percent exceeded all projections.

The vote was seen by some as symbolic of an introverted attitude by the Dutch in recent years as they struggle do deal with issues such as integration, a shrinking economy and fears over Islamic radicalism.

It was the first vote held in the Netherlands on the Dutch involvement with Europe, and opponents spoke of a breakthrough for European democracy. The extent of the opposition was a shock to the political establishment, which campaigned for the charter until the final hours of voting.

Balkenende's unpopular government itself was partially blamed for the defeat. The Algemeen Dagblad daily said the government "could not remain without facing consequences," calling on Balkenende to dismiss members of his Cabinet.

Gerrie Elfrink, a young Dutch Socialist Party city council member, said politicians had conceived the idea of a united Europe behind closed doors without consulting the people.

"We in Holland, we feel Dutch. We want to work together with France, Germany and England. But we want to be Dutch. Europe exists only in the minds of politicians in Brussels," he said.

"This is the first time in decades we could say something and we said, 'It's gone too far.'"

As an American, I think to myself, "Who cares if you feel Dutch? Get over it. Move on. There's a whole new world out there." But, I guess you've got to have some sympathy for the Europeans. It's easier for us to leave the past behind, because we never built up a culture which was a monument to past glories as the Europeans have.

It's scary to let go.


The thing is, Europe seems to be at odds with each other over issues which are minor compared to the larger issue of the Islamic Jihad against the West. And what's worse, they aren't even communicating with each other. European politicians want the EU to go forward for economic reasons, so they don't listen to the people. The people want to retain their national identities and traditional cultures, so they are against the EU.

Neither side is offering any solution.

There is no reason the EU can't go forward with limitations on immigration between the nations of Europe. There is no reason the people of the Netherlands should be expected to accomodate the arrival of hundreds of thousands of Poles, looking for employment.

But, the unwillingness of a large percentage of Muslim immigrants to assimilate into European life, is a much bigger threat. Why is it that neither side is discussing this issue?

Hmm. Maybe they are and it doesn't make it into the papers?

Who knows. I guess I'll go read Fjordman and No Pasaran.

UPDATE: Well gee, look at that. I took my own advice and read Fjordman, and here's what he has to say:

... don’t expect to hear much serious debate about the significance of this popular revolt against “the idea of Europe” for many months. For years politicians have made Europe a pretext for imposing unpopular policies — cuts in pensions or higher taxes — which they were too cowardly to justify in their own right. But they always promised that giving up sovereignty to Europe would somehow stave off economic reality and make their citizens better off.

After falling for such false promises for decades, voters have finally turned against both Europe and their national leaders. From now on, Europe will be judged not by rhetoric, but by results. For this, we all owe a debt of gratitude to the voters of France and the Netherlands.