1 June 2005


The Dutch have voted "no" too, which makes it pretty much inconceivable that the Brits will hold a referendum, which means that the European constitutional treaty is dead. Cue sighs of relief all round for Tony Blair and his government, crowing from Eurosceptic chumps et cetera – but what now for Europe's institutional arrangements?

It's clear that the French and Dutch referendum results were rejections of the institutional status quo as well as of the treaty's proposals (even if they were also about other things). And the key point that everyone sensible in the "no" camp was making was that the EU was insufficiently democratic and open.

So something needs to be done soon – if not tomorrow – to establish the EU's democratic legitimacy. Part of that must include opening up its workings more to the scrutiny of national parliaments. But in the end I can't see any solution other than increasing the credibility of the European Parliament. And that means massively augmenting its powers over the Commission and the Council of Ministers as well as clamping down ruthlessly on expenses scams.

In other words, the French and Dutch votes make the case for a democratic federal European polity stronger not weaker.

No comments: