Monday, May 30

Article by Peter Troy

The Northern Echo - Tuesday 31 May 05
Winston Churchill once commented that constitutions should be short and obscure. The Treaty Establishing a Constitution for Europe with its 482 pages of text is far from short and is both complex and contradictory.

It is no wonder that two days after the French people rejected the EU Constitution the consensus of opinion of people that I have spoken to in the North East is that it is businesses as usual. Quite simply nothing has changed and life goes on.

The EU Constitution is in fact more important than any other European issue todate. It is the blue print not of a Supranational Europe, nor even a Federal States of Europe but of a Centralised State of Europe. The detail of the Constitution will, if it were to be ratified fundamentally change the structure and the nature of what we have been persuaded to call 'Europe'. The importance of the debate on the EU Constitution is that it will impose a centralising control on all aspects our lives; debate on this Constitution is vital.

The rejection by the French people does not mean that the constitution is dead. Far from it, the architects of the European Union only have one policy and one objective - political integration. The fanatically focused approach of the political and unelected officials in the driving seat of the Union will continue with what they know best, forging ahead regardless of democratic obstacles.

The strategy of our political masters is already clear. Tony Blair has responded with the same words uttered by the Foreign Secretary, saying it was ''too early to decide whether or not Britain will hold a referendum on the EU Constitution.''

Following the expected no vote in the Netherlands tomorrow the political focus will then move to Brussels and the European Council gathering on 16/17 June. There I predict with certainty the argument will prevail that it would be ''unfair'' to allow just a few countries to dictate the future of Europe - every country must have a chance to express its opinion on the Constitution.

The History of the EU however, confirms that it is immune to public opinion. The genius of the founding fathers was to design a system in which supreme power was wielded by unelected officials and in which the peoples were presented with a series of fait accomplis. When in 1992 the first No vote in Denmark 's Referendum on the Maastricht Treaty our masters were so set in their ways to consider respecting the result they carried on regardless.

We do not need to have EU Centralised Integration to improve the quality of life in the UK. In the interests of democracy the process of ratification must continue in a full reasoned debate with the issues openly discussed; that means that we need a Referendum on the Constitution. After all in the North East we are rather good at rejecting issues in Referendums that politicians tell us we need, business as usual indeed.

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