After the Titanic hit the iceberg it took a while before the captain, officers, crew and passengers realized that they were doomed. The first to realize that the vessel was going down were the passengers below deck. The same is true for Europe today. While the indigenous lower classes have – in a panic, but rationally – begun to vote in ever growing numbers for so-called populist, “islamophobe” politicians, the European establishment politicians and mainstream media are discussing how to revive the European Constitution which the voters in France and the Netherlands rejected last year.
Instead of trying to prevent an impending clash of cultures, the establishment politicians are totally absorbed in efforts to circumvent the rejection of their constitutional project. The assassinations of Pim Fortuyn and Theo van Gogh, the bombings in Madrid and London, the French riots, the Danish cartoon case, should have been so many warnings to even the blindest establishment, but all Europe’s politicians care about is that when Europe goes down it goes down with a constitution.
Europe’s current predicament has two causes. A self-inflicted “demographic winter” is setting in on the continent. Last week the Finance committee of the French Assembly wrote that by 2030 Europe will represent only 8% of the world’s population, compared with 22% in 1950. Within the same period the average age of its citizens will rise from 29 to 39 years and the fertility rate will drop from 2.6 to 1.4. The situation is particularly serious in Germany, Italy and Spain. These dramatic figures are all the more worrying as they take into account the large immigrant population that has settled Europe since the 1960s and ’70s.
In the midst of its demographic implosion Europe invited in large numbers of fecund people belonging to an alien culture and religion. This in itself was asking for problems. The latter were exacerbated by the second cause of Europe’s predicament: the refusal of Europe’s ruling elites to uphold law and order and to defend its traditional values and institutions, such as the nation-state. It is this combination of “lazy multiculturalism and corroded civil society” that is killing Europe. The EU Constitution is an example of the corrosion of one of the most important of Western institutions, the national state. But Europe’s politicians, including its new leaders, fail to notice and are foolishly exacerbating the situation.
Last Saturday it was revealed that German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who never made a secret of her desire to revive the European constitutional treaty, along with the cunning French president Jacques Chirac, have devised a Franco-German plan to present the core of the EU Constitution to the French and Dutch voters again. According to the German weekly Der Spiegel Berlin and Paris have been hatching the following scheme to “save” the EU Constitution: The rejected constitutional treaty would be reduced to its first two parts, that which sets out the EU’s competences and the charter of fundamental rights of the union. A political declaration would be added and the new document would be put to a fresh poll in both France and the Netherlands. The remaining third part of the text, detailing the EU’s policies, would subsequently be ratified by the French and Dutch parliaments, thus completing the ratification of the entire EU Constitution.
Earlier Ms Merkel had proposed to attach a “social protocol” to the failed Constitution in order to “make it more acceptable to French and Dutch public opinion.” Europe’s leaders would be required to sign a declaration on the “social dimension of Europe” in order to soothe the fears of Socialist voters that the EU will liberalize the economy.
The Franco-German plot seems already to have met with the approval of Belgium, which throughout its 175-year history has always been a French vassal (apart from the short periods when it collaborated with Germany). Belgium’s Prime Minister, Guy Verhofstadt, is an outspoken proponent of a federal European superstate, a “United States of Europe,” which will be a Greater Belgium. Yesterday Matti Vanhanen and José Socrates, the Prime Ministers of Finland and Portugal also called for a European Constitution based on the existing draft. Earlier Miguel Angel Moratinos, the Spanish Foreign Minister, made it clear that Spain also wants the Constitution implemented.
Another cunning old Frenchman, former President Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, also wants a revival of the rejected Constitution. Mr Giscard, the chairman of the group that authored the European Constitution and an anti-democratic conspirator, said in a recent lecture [pdf] at the London School of Economics on 28 February that the “rejection of the Constitution [by the French and Dutch voters] was a mistake which will have to be corrected.” Referring to earlier EU referendums on the Maastricht and Nice treaties where Ireland and Denmark were forced to vote over and over again until they accepted the texts imposed by the EU, he said that “if the Irish and the Danes can vote yes in the end, so can the French [and the Dutch].”
“The Constitution will have to be given a second chance,” Mr Giscard added, because the electorate, he claimed, had voted no out of an “error of judgement” and “ignorance.” He stressed that Europe’s leaders would not be stopped by the people: “In the end, the text will be adopted.” He also said “We want a political union,” adding “it is no longer a case of debating what we want to do, but determining how we do it.” He said that an “urgent task” for the EU now is to “carefully prepare a realistic timetable and binding commitments with a view to establishing the European political Union.” He made it quite clear that “It was a mistake to use the referendum process, but when you make a mistake you can correct it.” He also predicted that the Constitution would be a stepping stone to further integration later, arguing that “adoption of the Constitution will not be enough to complete Europe’s political union,” and that the Constitution is for this generation, but for the next generation “there will be something else.”
It is unclear why an otherwise sensible woman such as Ms Merkel is willing to play the game of the anti-democratic and corrupt Mr Giscard and save the Constitution he authored. Does she wants to prove that as a woman she will be able to succeed where the men failed? Or is she eager to divert attention from her own domestic problems, such as the increase of Germany’s unemployment rate to 12.2%, with over 5 million now out of work. Next week, at their meeting on 14 March, the EU finance ministers will probably decide to give Germany one more year to bring its budget deficit below the maximum set by the EU. Germany set the deficit rules in the 1990s, but last year it pressured the EU to relax them because it can no longer comply with them.
The French political class, however, has not yet reached an agreement on how to proceed with the EU Constitution. Nicolas Sarkozy, the French interior minister and presidential hopeful, is reluctant to put the Constitution to the voters a second time. Instead he would prefer to adopt only those proposals of the rejected treaty which enjoy a “large consensus.” This is the so-called “cherry-picking” approach, which is designed to lead to a “Constitution lite.” The cherries that Mr Sarkozy wants to pick include the new system of weighted votes, a restriction of the national veto, the creation of an EU foreign minister and increased checks against over-regulation by national parliaments. He stressed, however, that he does not favour a new French referendum on the Constitution, saying “I will not be the one who will tell the French that they have misunderstood the question.” Mr Sarkozy is currently touring Europe to promote his idea for a “mini constitutional treaty” (and also to enhance his international prestige for the 2007 French presidential elections).
A recent survey conducted among the Brussels establishment of Eurocrats – EU politicians, journalists, lobbyists, NGO chiefs and bureaucrats – shows widespread support for constitutional cherry-picking. Of those questioned in the survey 70% believed that such moves towards a “Constitution lite” would not be undemocratic.
However, there are also “hardliners” who insist that the Constitution is dead since the French and the Dutch rejected it. Outspoken proponents of this position are Poland and the Netherlands.
Last January the Polish president Lech Kaczynski said that the EU should draft a new text because the one currently on the table pushes for more integration than the citizens are willing to accept. “That constitution created a certain hybrid, which was not a European superstate yet, but was not that far from it,” he said. Adam Bielan, the spokesman of Law and Justice (PiS), Mr Kaczynski’s party, said that Europe should focus on more pressing matters rather than “waste time” trying to revive the “dead” Constitution. “The Constitution must be ratified by all. The decisions of France and the Netherlands have closed the matter,” he said. Ben Bot, the Dutch Foreign Minister, also said that the Constitution was “as good as dead.” He ruled out the possibility of the Dutch parliament ratifying a treaty which the people had rejected in a referendum.