Europe Will Survive a French Non

Mark Leonard, author of Why Europe Will Run the 21st Century, argues that the EU will survive in the event of the French voting no. He notes in Foreign Policy that:

It is possible that a French no vote could result in the EU’s sticking solely with its current treaties, or that the other 24 member states will proceed with ratification sans France. But the more likely outcome is that Europe’s leaders will convene a mini intergovernmental conference to salvage the parts of the constitution that matter most. Yes, the grand rhetoric of the document’s preamble will be lost, but key elements will be rescued: the creation of the new post of European foreign minister, the External Action Service (essentially, a diplomatic corps), a weighted majority voting system, and the ability of member states to apply an “emergency brakeâ€? on European integration. And because it won’t be a grand constitution, it won’t necessarily trigger referendums across the EU.

And concludes:

The only thing that will be destroyed by France’s voting no will be its claims to a leadership role within Europe. If France balks, it will be exposed as a naked defender of national interest that can no longer trade off its status as a founding member of the EU. That moral leadership within Europe will remain out of France’s grasp as long as it is anti-enlargement, anti-American, and anti-change. And the crisis will be in France, not Europe.

This is a subject a bit close to the bone following my twice rejection of the Nice Treaty – and fat lot of good voting in that referendum did. I will be fascinated to see how this plays out – will we see Jose Barroso jetted off to Paris to tell the French that they voted wrong and they better bloody get it right the next time – or else.

Somehow I doubt it.






5 responses to “Europe Will Survive a French Non”

  1. WindsandBreezes avatar

    Sending Jose Barroso off to Paris to tell the French they got it wrong is a sure-fire way to guarantee a decisive NON second time round.


    There seems to be this undercurrent of conviction that if a population rejects an EU based referendum put to them, they must be:

    1) wrong
    2) too self-interested
    3) unable to understand the ramifications of
    saying no.

    It bugs me quite a lot. No one ever seems to consider that maybe the voters know exactly what they are doing which is at least as likely.

  2. Keith avatar

    Agreed. Personal anecdote: before the Nice referendum, I read up all the literature I could find, and decided that I was in favour of the treaty. Voted yes.

    The treaty failed to pass, and I was ok with that. Then the idea gets tossed about that there’ll be a second vote. I wasn’t so happy about that and voted no. Unfortunately the rest of the country didn’t have the same idea.

  3. Isa avatar

    The French are selfish and self-centered…I’m ashamed to be a citizen of this closed minded country. I would define myself as a citizen of the world. Saying no to the referendum is just stupid.

  4. WindsandBreezes avatar


    Why? Why is saying “no” to the referendum “just stupid”?

    I take a dim view of people who don’t argue their position, but who dismiss points of view which don’t match their own as being “stupid”.

    For the record – and I don’t have to do this – I would venture to say that in principle, I’m broadly in favour of the constitutional treaty. A tidy up of the documentation is probably in order given the development of the EU in the past few years, and the direction it’s about to follow. Certain aspects of the procedures really do need to be streamlined. But I’m not so arrogant that I assume that those people who disagree with me, whatever nationality they might be (and the spectre of a “no” vote is not uniquely haunting France) are displaying stupidity. They’ve reasoned it out differently and what’s more they are entitled to. Do you really want to live in a place where there is no freedom of thought, or does freedom of thought just apply to those that actually agree with you?

    As for France, well, I have to say my experience of the French is that they are no more selfish and self-centred than say, the British, and probably less so. No country is full of saints.


  5. EWI avatar

    There seems to be a distinct double-standards in place. The Dastardly French say “non”, the Heroic Englanders say “no”…