Sunday, May 29, 2005


France votes "No" on EU Constitution

I'm so unused to election outcomes that I like that I'll have to keep this brief so that I can go pop the champagne—French champagne, that is.

Results of France's referendum on the EU Constitution are just emerging on the Web, and it appears that the French have rejected it decisively. Of course, they're still only reporting exit polls, and you know how disastrously that can turn out, but the results appear so overwhelming that even the Republicans couldn't screw with it.

According to Agence France-Presse, three different exit polls have shown a rejection of the Constitution by 55% to 45%. Turnout by American standards was incredible—between 70% to 80%.

Unlike the U.S. Constitution, the EU Constitution would enshrine an economic theory—capitalism—1

While supporters argued that the constitution was a necessary next step towards France's destiny as the leader of a united Europe, rejectionists said it was a charter for unbridled capitalism and would entrench US-style "liberal" economics at the heart of the EU.

You didn't have to care about economic theory. You could just worry about your job—

Many ordinary voters caught the message that the constitution would open up France to cheap competition from eastern Europe and lead to "dumping" as norms of social protection are dragged downwards. Some saw a "no" vote as a way of blocking Turkish entry to the EU, even though the issue is not in the text.

All in all, a good day.

Related posts
EU Constitution signed; anti-gay candidate backs off (10/31/04)
The best place in the world to do business (edited) (11/8/04)


1The Belgian Victor S., who is of or is The Apostate Windbag voiced some of his objections yesterday—

Just quickly, here are a handful of the key examples ... of how the ECT remains not merely neo-liberal through and through, but is additionally aggressively militarist, (incidentally undermining the traditions of neutrality of Ireland and Austria):

    1. Articles 111-69, 70, 77, 144 and 180 all identically repeat that the Union will act 'in conformity with the respect for the principles of an open economic market where competition is free.'

    2. There are numerous clauses that specifically correspond to demands made by certain employer organisations.

    3. The ECT demands unanimous voting for any measures that might go against corporate interests. This is the certainly case for measures against tax fraud, or taxation of companies. Such legislative movement in this regard requires a unanimous vote as, above all, "[it is] necessary for the functioning of the internal market and to avoid distortion of competition." (111-63). Thus, any future proposed duty imposed on corporations would be subject to unanimous voting - something the Ouistes regularly trot out as being reduced under the ECT.

    4. Shockingly, the ECT demands all states' subservience to NATO: '[M]ember states shall undertake progressively to improve their military capacities.' (1-40-3). Article 1-40-2 says that European defence policy shall be compatible with members' NATO obligations, a direct recognition of the superior judicial status of that military organisation. Furthermore, the article continues with even greater precision that "participating member states shall work in close collaboration with NATO". Even in situations of "internal serious disturbances affecting public order, in cases of war or of [...] the threat of war", member states are obliged to work together in order to avoid "affecting" the functioning of the "internal market"! (III-16)'

    5. Perhaps most disturbing in the ECT is clause 17 of the third section, regarding the question of the break-up of public services: It is permitted that a member state can be in favour of maintaining a public service. But public services have: "the effect of distorting the conditions of competition in the internal market, [and] the Commission shall, together with the state concerned, examine how these steps can be adjusted to the rules laid dawn in the Constitution. By derogation of common law procedure, the Commission or any member state can apply directly to the Court of Justice which will sit in secret..." (III-17)' Thus the constitution from the start commits member states to the ultimate elimination of public services.

I find it remarkable that the Guardian leader writers are not aware that the ECT explicitly codifies the dismantling of social services and expansion of European military capablilities.

But let's take the latter two elements and invert them leftwards, just to expose how retrograde this project truly is: Imagine if instead there were a document - a constitution no less, the founding document of a (in this case quasi-)state - that included words something along the following lines:

'Markets have the effect of ever greater inequality, impoverishment and environmental destruction, and so the Commission shall, together with the state concerned, examine how steps can be taken to minimize the impact of markets on society, steadily taking into public ownership under workers' control initially the commanding heights of industry, but in the shorter or longer term every aspect of the economy, in accordance with the rules laid down in the Constitution. By derogation of the inalienable rights of humanity, the Commission or any member state can apply directly in this regard to the Court of Justice, which will be directly elected and instantly recallable and which will sit openly...' [emphasis in the original]


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