EU constitution officially dead
The invaluable EUROSOC informs us that the president of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso, ending months of speculation announced that the EU was going to have to make do without a constitution. EUROSOC also reminds us all the declarations, promises and threats that accompanied the French and Dutch rejection:
Previously EU leaders had hinted that the treaty might be renegotiated, or would continue to be ratified until the French and Dutch people had no choice but to vote again. Both Austria's chancellor Wolfgang Schussel and Hans-Gert Pottering, head of the centre-right EPP group in the European parliament, had proposed means of re-animating the treaty, both of which would have held Dutch and French voters in contempt.
Governments, not least Britain's and Holland's, had briefed privately against the constitution's chances of revival, but neither was willing to deliver the killer blow to the EU's flagship legislation project - even though it was legally invalid after the referenda. This led wilder Eurofantasists, including Luxembourg's prime minister, to claim that the treaty itself had not been rejected - only the governments in power when the votes were held.
Barroso added that the EU seemed to be continuing reasonably well under existing treaties, noting that no Commission proposals has been held up since the EU enlarged to 25 members in May 2004. This admission will come as a blow to EU insiders who warned of dire consequences should the treaty be scrapped. The Times kindly reminds of us some of the more fevered imaginings threatened by treaty supporters:
"Jan Peter Balkenende, the Dutch Prime Minister, used Second World War commemorations to warn his voters what would happen if they rejected the constitution. Margot Wallstrom, the Vice-President of the European Commission, used a Holocaust memorial to suggest where lack of a constitution might lead. Members of the European Parliament produced television promotions for the constitution using footage of Jews being herded on to trains, the massacre in Srebrenica and the terrorist attack in Madrid."
They will have more time to write these:
EU regulations regarding the acceptable curvature of bananas. (No, I was not joking then or now!) EU Regulation 2257/94 requires that bananas are at least 13.97cm (5.5in) long and 2.69cm (1.06in) round and do not have "abnormal curvature," as set out in an eight-page directive drawn up in 1994.
Symbolic of this development is the (in)famous EU Commission Directive 1677/88 of 15.06.1988, which sets quality standards for cucumbers. This specification for the perfect EU cucumber runs to seven pages of prosaic detail. On the other hand, you will search in vain for a “Directive on quality standards for democracy”.