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Plus Ca Change... Eu Constitution Returns

2.09.2006

Its been mooted for a while but it seems that Brussels really was intent on taking one from Bertie Aherns playbook and simply knuckling under for a while before going on as before. It seems that Estonia and Belgium are revving up to ratify the EU Constitution that it seems no one wants but are going to get anyway.

Is it right that a document such as this can be passed with little or no recourse to Referenda? Is it so important as to require popular support? This travels to the heart of the idea of representation of the people by legislators. Are we simply electing officials to exercise their best judgement on a topic with no requirement to consider our view, or do they require a mandate in certain important circumstances?

Does it really matter that the process seems to be unwanted by the people? I would like to think so, but the signals from Brussels suggests that lessons have not been learned and EU Government has not been forced to reflect on its role and status in broader EU society. Having been soundly rejected in France and The Netherlands and likely to be so in UK and elsewhere the message was to return to Brussels and get your house in order. In a move Bertie would be proud of they did the latter, said the former had taken place and went on as intended. While that might suffice for running a state whose electorate are docile enough, it doesnt do for a European project at all.

People dont often care to know what goes on in governance, they care to know that once in a while their opinion can be heard and on all else its a-pint-of-whatever-your-having-yourself. The prospect of doing more work and putting together a coherent plan with a decent central message and theme seems to be too much for a bunch of tired and lazy politicians/bureaucrats who are growing unused to dealing with a citizenry on a European level.

This constitutional move and the contents of it are unlikely to alter such a situation and bring the EU closer to public accountability and scrutiny. I am safe in the knowledge that I can vote on this issue, and may now choose not on the content but on the tone of the politics, however I would prefer to see the EU learn from an election defeat far more than it seems to learn from a victory in a national assembly.

Democratising a body as diverse and insular as the EU is no mean task, yet a simple ethos of public accoutability that moves beyond the Burkean paternalism would be a great place to start. Those of us sympathetic to the EU are as ostracised by this decision as those who are opposed to its existence.

This is not going to help talk of democratic defecits etc.

RR

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