Further on the EU constitution

First off, there’s nothing like attending an EU-sponsored conference about something almost entirely different when major apocalyptic news like this comes down the pipeline in the middle of the first night dinner. Also striking that the Parisian passers-by seemed pretty pleased with the news – yes, Carl, I know that Paris voted massively in favour but that wasn’t obviously the case around the Trocadero yesterday.

Second, in answer to , of course the EU is just as governable now as it was last week. The constitution streamlined things a bit but not a lot. Insiders whinge a bit about the 25 taking longer to get through their prepared statements than the 15 used to (and some of the older ones remember when it was only 12) but decisions still seem to be being made. (And indeed it’s 27 not 25 these days, as the Romanians and Bulgarians already get to sit in the meetings though without voting rights.)

Third, to  – in fact all 28 of the then applicant states were fully involved with the last constitutional conference, including not only the 25 plus Rom and Bul but Turkey too, so I doubt that people are awfully concerned about the Croats and Macedonians causing a huge difference if it went back to a new intergovernmental conference. It’s also frankly difficult to conceive of any deliberative body constituted out of the political elites from the 25, or 27, or 28, or 30 states coming up with a document much different from the one they got last time. And sadly I don’t think the EU is yet ready to embrace the British Columbia model which for my money is best practice in this kind of thing.

Fourth, to ,  and  again, I don’t think they’ll rush to impose just the bits they like from the constitution any time soon. After the Dutch deliver their anticipated “no” on Wednesday I expect the EU summit next month will declare the ratification process to be suspended, and that Blair and perhaps also Schüssel will be put in charge of a “period of reflection” during the British (second half of this year) and maybe also the Austrian (first half of next) EU presidencies. This also means that the UK referendum on the constitution will be on indefinite hold.

Fifth, I do hope this doesn’t have too much impact on the coming enlargements, especially for the Croats (already knocked back by their own failures on the war crimes issues) and the Macedonians (victims of a particularly silly campaign by the Greeks over the name issue). The Turks were going to be facing bigger problems anyway with the coming German elections and with various other factors. As long as further enlargements proceed, even if delayed a year or so, I won’t weep too many tears for the constitutional treaty – I’d rather have had it, but the EU will manage without.

Finally, , are you really Swedish or just trying to confuse me?

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