No vote #4: Views on the Constitution

2005-06-09

Richard Moore

Friends,

I found the text of the proposed constitution at:
    http://www.fco.gov.uk/Files/kfile/CM6429_Treaty.pdf 

An html version is at:
http://www.google.com/search?q=cache:GN7A_quK998J:www.fco.gov.uk/Files/kfile/CM6429_Treaty.pdf+EU+Constitution:+final+version&hl=en

Here are two excerpts which relate to neoliberalism:
        
        The  European  System of  Central  Banks  shall  be  governed 
        by  the decision-making  bodies  of  the  European  Central 
        Bank.  The  primary objective of the European System of
        Central Banks shall be to maintain price stability.  Without 
        prejudice  to  that  objective, it  shall  support  the 
        general economic policies in the Union in order to contribute
        to the achievement of the  latter's  objectives.  It  shall 
        conduct  other  Central  Bank  tasks  in accordance with Part
        III and the Statute of the European System of Central Banks
        and of the European Central Bank.

        ARTICLE  III-130
        2.  The internal market shall comprise an area without
        internal frontiers in which the free movement of persons,
        services, goods and capital is ensured in accordance with the
        Constitution 

Below are several good assessments of the constitution. The final
one includes an interview with Susan George.

I'll wrap up this series tomorrow with an analysis from the 
Council on Foreign Relations.

rkm

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http://www.demopunk.net/en/intern/europe/pcon_euro03_en.pdf 
Analysis of the European Constitutional Treaty draft 
Demopunk Net. September 2003 

[written originally in Spanish]

        The constitutional draft consolidates present status of
        institutional relations of the european autocracy. Some
        institutions has not any relation with popular sovereignty,
        some ones are placed at several level of indirection from it,
        and only the European Parliament (EP) is directly elected
        keeping for it a rachitic role. Let us take a brief revision.
        
        In the apex of the autocracy are the European Council, a sort
        of Standing Committee of Treaty of Versailles. Spanish
        representative is the monarch, although by complex and unknown
        reasons he delegates to President of Government. The Council
        appoints the President of European Commission who noveltyly is
        ratified by the EP. It keeps for itself the initiative to the
        constitutional amendment, the main decisions on foreign and
        security issues, and even legislative capacity in special
        procedures.
        
        The so-named Council of Ministers (CM) is a polymorphic
        institution whose members are variable, appointed
        discretionaryly by governments (in Spain without parliamentary
        ratification). It is the transmission chain of the national
        executive powers, a kind of travelling executive power. It has
        got huge powers, particularly in the legislative scope. Its
        popular representation is to be disintered at several levels
        of indirection.
        
        The most stable executive function is accomplished by the
        so-called European Comission (EC). It is in charge to
        elaborate laws and regulations (many of them are mandatory),
        to execute resolutions and to inspect. It has got the
        juridical representation of the EU before member states and
        the rest of the world. But perhaps its most impressive power
        is to have got THE EXCLUSIVE RIGHT OF LEGISLATIVE INITIATIVE.
        It should be thought about twice to assimilate it. Its
        President is appointed by the mentioned procedure, and he or
        she appoints the commissioners of EU by a rotating schedule
        among proposal of the government of the moment; of course
        without parliamentary ratification.
        
        Other institutions in the constitutional draft are the
        European Central Bank, and the highest judicial institutions:
        the European Court of Justice that taking in the role of
        constitutional court and the High Court. Their members are
        appointed discretionaryly by governments without parliamentary
        ratification ( AI-28.2 ,AIII-84.2 ). Shocking.

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http://www.brugesgroup.com/about/index.live
Mission Statement 
        The Bruges Group aims to bring together those from across
        Europe and North America who have an alternative concept to
        the Federalist model. So that Baroness Thatcher's vision of a
        freetrading, decentralised, deregulated and democratic Europe
        of nation-states is realised the Group believes that
        Federalism is an inappropriate structure for Europe, and that
        the tide of European integration must be turned.

http://www.brugesgroup.com/mediacentre/quotes.live
The EU Constitution - in their own words 

        "This Constitution is, in spite of all justified calls for
        further regulations, a milestone. Yes, it is more  than that.
        The EU Constitution is the birth certificate of the United
        States of Europe. The Constitution is not the end point of
        integration, but the framework for -  as it says in the
        preamble - an ever closer union." - Hans Martin Bury, the
        German Minister for Europe, debate in the Bundestag, Die Welt,
        25 February 2005
        
        "For the first time, Europe has a shared Constitution. This
        pact is the point of no return. Europe is  becoming an
        irreversible project, irrevocable after the ratification of
        this treaty. It is a new era for  Europe, a new geography, a
        new  history." - French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin,
        Le Metro, 7th October 2004
        
        "The Constitution is the capstone of a European Federal State." 
        - Guy Verhofstadt, Belgian Prime Minister, Financial
        Times, 21st June 2004
        
        "We know that nine out of 10 people will not have read the
        Constitution and will vote on the basis  of  what politicians
        and journalists say. More than that, if the answer is No, the
        vote will probably have  to be done again, because it
        absolutely has to be Yes. " - Jean-Luc Dehaene, Former Belgian
        Prime Minister and Vice-President of the EU Convention, Irish
        Times,  2nd June 2004
        
        "Our constitution cannot be reduced to a mere treaty for
        co-operation between governments. Anyone who has not yet
        grasped this fact deserves to wear the dunce's cap. " - Valéry
        Giscard, President of the EU Convention, speech in Aachen
        accepting the Charlemagne Prize for European integration, 29th
        May 2003 

--------------------------------------------------------

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http://www.thetruthseeker.co.uk/article.asp?ID=3174
French and Dutch Patriots Rout the New World Order 

By Michael James in Frankfurt, Germany - June 1, 2005 

On May 29, 2005, under a blazing sun, a raggle-taggle army of
French patriots, nationalists, libertarians, conservatives,
socialists and communists joined together as one in an
unprecedented strategic alliance and mounted a stunning,
crippling attack on the New World Order in the heart of
Europe.

Just three days later, fired by the courage of their French
cousins to the south, the Dutch people rallied to the standard
and put to flight whatever remained of the European elites'
parasitic army of self-absorbed, Lucifer-worshipping
propagandists; treading underfoot all 252 pages of  'The
Treaty Establishing a Constitution for Europe', a veritable
Devil's Charter for the final subjugation and control of an
already heavily regulated people.

Within the space of less than a week, the beast-men who
arrogantly run the Europe Union out of a sense of natural
entitlement and intellectual superiority, licking their chops
at the prospect of Europe's first real head of state with
potent executive powers and a triumphant expansionary agenda,
have fallen from their over-world abode of studied
indifference and invulnerability into a pit of unfathomable
despair.

In the thirty-three months it took to write and then rewrite
the new constitution in a frantic bluster of secret
negotiations and self-congratulatory banquets, and at a cost
to taxpaying munchkins of untold millions of euros, nothing
could have prepared them for this dark hour. For these
pampered viceroys of a revived Roman empire who take upon
themselves the title of 'Excellency' work to a timetable set
by a higher master - a master who jealously stalks the
corridors of power, from Whitehall to Washington, Beijing to
Moscow, looking to devour those who serve less than flawlessly
and without an eye on the clock. It's five minutes to twelve,
and the ticking has rudely stopped. The master is furious.

This wasn't meant to happen. The propaganda has always worked
in the past. The entire left-right spectrum of the French
political and Catholic establishment, backed by a nimble
phalanx of pseudo experts and geriatric SWAT teams of
white-haired university professors with impressive titles,
joined with both 'respectable society' and the drug-addled
icons of popular Parisian culture to remind all good citizens
through the whoring mainstream media and their legion of
multiple-orifice presstitutes that it was their duty to say
"Oui". But the sons and daughters of French liberty, seething
with an indignant rage shared by millions of Europeans denied
the right to vote, confronted the globalist beast and yelled
"Non!"

The political tsunami was felt from the west coast of Ireland
to the east coast of Greece. "Non! The Earthquake," proclaimed
the headline on the front page of La Tribune, while the
globalist newspaper Libération attacked the rebellious French,
describing the result as representing "a general disaster and
an epidemic of populism, which is sweeping everything in its
path". The May 30 edition of the Europhile British daily, The
Guardian, went further and claimed boldly: "Yesterday was
nothing less than the beginning of the second French
revolution."

The mainstream German press, constrained as it is by a general
prohibition on all talk of alternatives to the European Union,
could only speculate on what might have happened had the
German people been allowed to vote. "The fears that surfaced
during the debate in France are not foreign to us," said
Henrik Uterwedde, Deputy Director of the German-French
Institute in Ludwigsburg. If Germans had been granted a
referendum, he continued, "the discussion would have gone
exactly the same way".

"The French voted for us," was a common refrain on the streets
of Frankfurt. The German parliament, traditionally fearful of
allowing ordinary citizens to vote in referenda, in much the
same way it fears any objective discussion about the lies
contained within the pages of Germany's official 'history'
books, treasonously ratified the treaty with a comfortable
majority on Friday, May 27, following a series of quisling
pro-EU speeches reminiscent of East Germany's subservience to
the Soviet Union.

This audacious betrayal of the German people took place
against a backdrop in which the mainstream media made no
mention of the planned NATO and US neoconservative takeover of
the German armed forces, an agenda concealed in cleverly
worded provisions in Articles 1-14 and 1-16 of the treaty.
Indeed, mindful of the wrath of the City of London and its
insidious international banking operations, already
responsible for instigating and financing two world wars to
break the spirit of the German people, the federal media shut
down all discussion of the constitution's implications for
other independent European armies.

As neatly summarised by journalist and peace campaigner Israel
Shamir, the French saved their fellow Europeans from a fate
worse than death by killing a document that would forever bind
sovereign national armies to NATO, placing them under the
control of neo-fascist Washington and its Satanic, Zionist
puppet masters in London.

"The proposed constitution was about to subordinate the
European Armed Forces to the NATO, meaning to the US command,"
wrote Israel Shamir in the May 30 edition of
TheTruthSeeker.co.uk. "But for [the] wisdom of the French
voters, in the next US invasion, Europeans would be forced to
serve in the invading force, whether it is Iran or Russia that
the Neo-cons will decide to subdue."

Wrong-footed, winded and fumbling, the flabby, grey-faced
politicians and lawyers are out in force: explaining,
soothing, prevaricating. It's spin time again. Like a host of
Armani-suited Jabba the Hutts, sliming their way from one
government-controlled mainstream media outlet to the next,
Europe's political degenerates are putting the shine on a
humiliating defeat with words carefully chosen lest they
unwittingly acknowledge the power that ordinary people still
possess. Britain's best-known murderer, Tony Blair: "Time for
reflection". Germany's outgoing Chancellor, Gerhard Schroeder:
"Regrettable". France's Traitor-in-Chief himself, Jacques
Chirac: "I take note".

The elites are busy scribbling the notes of which Chirac
spoke. Legally, the treaty requires ratification in all 25
European Union member states, yet angry Bilderbergers such as
Jose Manuel Barroso, the current head of the European
Commission, are already hissing that either dissenting nations
would be 'invited' to vote again until they get it 'right', or
that something may miraculously emerge from the small print
previously overlooked, which would allow for a more liberal
interpretation of the rules. "We cannot say that the treaty is
dead," Barroso warned ominously.

But the Dutch disagree. As I write, millions of them are
kicking the corpse of this odious treaty; and should there be
yet one twitch remaining in the body of its articles, the
British and the Danes will finish the job.

For American readers unacquainted with life on the European
continent, understand that this is nothing less than the start
of a full-blooded political insurrection that cuts right
across the artificial political divide. While the wheels have
come off the European project, leaving the vehicle stuck in a
constitutional ditch, opponents of the globalist agenda are
now poised for what should be an aggressive and determined
attack on the very engine of expansion and integration.

For both Americans and Europeans, the enemy is the same. It
employs trauma-based economic terrorism under the banner of
'free markets' to demolish the nation state and our God-given
rights to liberty and self-determination. It works through
price-gouging, tax largesse for corporations that destroy
free-enterprise, the wholesale destruction of the middle
classes by encouraging the export of quality jobs abroad and
the import of cheap labour to displace what few options are
left. It is dedicated to the creation of artificial conflicts
and trivial distractions to keep people divided and drugged,
and it maintains the constant drumbeat of militarism that
nuances the dance of death in which the United Nations and the
United States are willing partners who fake being out of step.

The world has long since surrendered its hope that fearless
Americans will rise up by force of arms and reclaim their
birthright, retaking their great country from the freedom and
wealth-destroying Zionist cabal in Washington. While their
children die for Israel and oil in a war to depopulate a
broken Arab nation that did them no harm, most Americans are
lost in a bizarre fantasy world of asinine government
propaganda, junk entertainment and effeminate shopping malls.

But though, for now, the issue is a diabolical treaty settled
without a whiff of gun-smoke at the ballot box, the French
have raised the standard of resistance against a wounded but
unrepentant New World Order, and the battle lines are drawn.
Europe's parasitic elites in London, Brussels and Strasbourg
will neither forgive nor forget; and in the months and years
to come, they will not go down without drawing blood. So mark
this day and mark it well, for Europe stands before the fire.

At long last, the fight-back has begun. 

--------- 
Michael James is a British freelance journalist and translator, 
resident in Germany for almost 13 years. Permission to 
republish his work in any media is freely granted. 

--------------------------------------------------------
From: "Janet M Eaton" <•••@••.•••>
To: •••@••.•••
Date: Thu, 02 Jun 2005 18:52:34 -0300
Subject: Why French and Dutch Citizens Are Saying NO 
by Susan George and Erik Wesselius

---<fwd>---

http://www.tni.org/interviews/euconstitution.htm

Why French and Dutch Citizens Are Saying NO
Susan George and Erik Wesselius
TNI Website, 21 May 2005

The French referendum on the EU constitution takes place on 29
May, followed by a similar referendum in The Netherlands on 1
June. Opinions polls show the 'no' side edging ahead, but in
both countries it's still too close to call. The following
virtual interview is based on presentations given at the
Transnational Institute (TNI) Fellows' Meeting in Amsterdam on
21 May. Paris-based Susan George (SG) is TNI Associate
Director, Vice-President of Attac France and an active
campaigner against the constitution. Erik Wesselius (EW) is a
researcher at Corporate Europe Observatory and the Secretary
of the Comité Grondwet Nee (Dutch Committee for the NO Vote)
in The Netherlands.

What is the state of public opinion in France and in The
Netherlands at this moment?

EW: It's not just a slight majority opposed to the treaty in
The Netherlands, according to the latest polls. Last week the
polls were indeed still fifty-fifty between the yes and the
no, but the polls that came out yesterday and today show
between 60 per cent and 64 per cent for the no. So, we see
there's been a huge development during the last week, which I
think has a lot to do with the fact that the Dutch government
is campaigning very strongly in favour of the constitution.
Although I'm sceptical of opinions polls, I'm more and more
convinced that this is really happening. I had never imagined
when we started our campaign that it would have developed in
this direction.

SG: Although the number of undecided people is going down
steadily - you know the polls are just about neck and neck in
France as well - people are worried about what happens
afterwards, because the government has been leaning on the
chaos argument. Our answer to that is 'well no, you just go
back to where you are today. We currently have the Nice treaty
and in the past there has been a treaty about every three
years, so there is no reason to think this won't keep going on
as usual'. But this time we won't turn back, because there has
been a major public debate and people are now far more aware
of what European policies actually are. So now we can have a
genuine debate about which direction we want to go.

What are your main criticisms of the constitution?

SG: Valérie Giscard d'Estaing, a former president of France,
was named as head of the constitutional convention that
produced this document. The members of the convention, 105 of
them, were named from above, they were appointed. About two
thirds of them were either European or national
parliamentarians, but they were not elected by the citizens to
do this. Then there were some others supposedly representing
civil society. So that's the first criticism: the non-
democratic aspect. A constitutional convention is normally an
elected body, so that it comes in a sense from the people.
This constitution does not come from the people; it comes from
an appointed group.

EW: I could talk about this for hours, but the main basic
message is that this constitution is not democratic and that
if we accept it we could be left with an absolutely inadequate
situation for the next 20 years or so. I think that's very
dangerous for the future of European co-operation. The second
basic argument is that a constitution should be readable and
accessible to the population. It should not be a document of
480 pages, with some 400 more pages of appendixes and
declarations. That's really crazy.

SG: The members of the convention worked for about two years
and were only supposed to deal with the balances of power, as
you would normally do in a constitution. Besides this, they
were supposed to constitutionalise the Charter, a fundamental
declaration of rights which had been placed in the Nice Treaty
but had not been formalised beyond that. Then, for reasons
that I am not really clear on, Giscard d'Estaing himself
decided to include part three, which is around three quarters
of the document and which is this whole list of very detailed
policies.

EW: This document contains a lot of policy. It includes a
whole chapter on economic policies basically fixing Europe on
a neo-liberal framework. That kind of stuff should not be
present in a constitution because if the European governments
would like to subsequently change that policy choice it would
not be possible, it would be anti- constitutional. So that's
very dangerous and very easy to explain to people. The
inclusion of this whole chapter on neo-liberal policies in the
constitution is one of our main points of critique.

Another important criticism is the militarisation of the EU.
The document includes key articles saying that the member
states of the EU will improve their military capabilities
every year. This has been turned around by part of the left,
who say that improving doesn't necessarily mean spending more,
but if you know where these proposals come from then you get
worried. They are the product of a working group which
included several representatives of the European military
industry, and who want to sell their goods. That's why they
were very happy to have these paragraphs in the European
constitution.

SG: Part three includes a whole list of policies in every
area, agriculture, environment, police co-operation, justice,
the central bank, etc. But the main thing is, however, that
the objectives of the union define it as an economic space
where you have freedoms of movement for goods, services,
people and capital, and a space in which competition is free
and unhindered. Competition comes into the text 47 times, the
word market 78 times, the phrase social progress is not
mentioned at all, or once I guess, and unemployment is not
mentioned at all.

We have many objections to the content of this document, but
the major one is that this text is not amendable, is not
revisable. It's not amendable because you need a triple
unanimity across all 25 countries. To amend the constitution
there first has to be a convention, which has to reach a
consensus. Then they hand the baby to the heads of government,
who also have to be unanimous in agreeing the proposed
changes. Then it goes into a process like the one we are going
through now, of either parliamentary approval or referendums,
and that also has to be unanimous otherwise the constitution
cannot be changed. So it is considered by anybody who has read
the thing to be virtually impossible to amend.

How have the French and the Dutch governments reacted to the
no campaign?

SG: The French government uses the argument that there is no
'Plan B', and that just because France says no that doesn't
mean that the other governments will be willing to
renegotiate. Our response to that is that somebody has got to
put a stop to this and, legally, if France votes no this
document is out. It's out for everyone.

President Jacques Chirac also says 'we will be the black sheep
of Europe.' The government are trying to make people believe
we would be living under a different law from the rest of
Europe, that everybody else would have the constitution but we
would have something different, and they have been confusing
this with a new article that says that any state has the right
to leave Europe. So they are promoting ambiguity on this
point.

But in fact we feel that after the vote there would be a great
deal of time for debate and that the balance of power would
change drastically. If we win that means that the Socialist
leadership is discredited, the president is discredited and
the prime minister too – the result will be political upheaval
throughout French politics. Then we can also have a real
debate about what we want next with our comrades in other
countries. That is what should happen. But first we have to
say no, this is not the model we want for Europe and the
world.

EW: In Holland they have just approved a special budget of
four million euro to campaign for the yes, because they were
very afraid of the no. We have initiated a court case to
either demand that this money is not spent, or that the no
campaign should get equal access to the media and equal
amounts of money, because this is completely out of
proportion. The no campaign has had 400,000 euro in total, and
that has been spread over a number of groups. My own group,
which is the main active group campaigning for the no, only
got 30,000 euro, so we can compare our 30,000 with their four
million.

Anyway, I think we can be happy that the government is so
disliked by the Dutch population at this moment, because it
has been implementing hard line neo-liberal social policies.
There were a lot of trade union demonstrations at the end of
last year and I think that what we see now in this clear shift
toward the no is a kind of pay-off.

SG: I would like to thank former European Commissioner Frits
Bolkenstein, a former member of the Dutch government, for
coming to France and defending his directive, which is about
the freedom of movement of services and about how the laws of
the country of origin apply and not the law of the country in
which a service is rendered. And he said he didn't believe in
all this referendum stuff, that people were elected to vote on
these things and they just should be allowed to get on with
it, and that ordinary people should not be involved in this
debate. So that was a real help. That was a big boost to us.

EW: The Dutch government has made a lot of public relation
mistakes. One of the main governing parties, the Liberals,
made a TV advertisement in which they showed some pictures of
Auschwitz, Srebrenica - which is a big Dutch trauma - and then
the Madrid bombings, and the concluding message was 'we need
an EU constitution to make Europe better and safer.' So
afterwards the Liberals thought 'oh well, maybe it is not such
a good idea to broadcast this,' but unfortunately for them the
clips were already circulating on the internet. This is a good
example of how the government is completely lacking arguments
to sell the constitution. They are really falling back on
empty statements about why Europe is so important.

SG: The French government is pulling out all the stops. They
are panicking. The business people had said 'we are not going
to actively campaign because we think it wouldn't be a good
idea, it might be counterproductive.' But this week over a
hundred major business leaders have signed an appeal for a yes
vote. The defence minister has said: 'if you don't vote for
the yes, Europe will be shot to hell.' They are really
panicking. Chirac appeared on TV with a group of carefully
selected young people, and two members of ATTAC were thrown
out because they said they were too partisan. So the remaining
kids were supposed to be very obedient and nice, but they
asked questions about our future that Chirac wasn't able to
answer, and the polls for the no went up after that. So we
thank Chirac too. And then there's the prime minister. Every
time he goes on TV it helps us.

People are also voting against the expression of
neo-liberalism in France that they have been suffering since
the present government was elected in 2002.

How and why did you begin to work around the referendum?

EW: We started about one and half years ago. Basically, we
were a group of people coming from a broadly left perspective
who had been working on EU issues for a long time. I have been
working on EU issues from the mid-1990s and was involved in
the alternative summit in 1997 during the negotiations for the
Amsterdam Treaty.

We sat together and strategised on how to approach this
referendum question and how to ensure that it would not be
possible for the government to say 'when you say no you are a
xenophobe,' which would have put us in the same corner as the
right-wing populists.

SG: The French debate on the constitution began in a rather
low-key way. We haven't been working on it for one and half
years, but we have been working on it since last summer. ATTAC
brought out a list of 21 demands to the intergovernmental
conference in 2004, none of which was satisfied, except that
equality between men and women was put in the objectives, but
that was only one out of 21 demands; the others were not
satisfied. Then a process began which I can't really explain,
because this is the biggest debate we have had in France since
1968. I don't know where this comes from. It must be the fact
that nobody has been asked to give his or her opinion about
Europe in the last 13 years. The last time was around
Maastricht, in 1992, and they kept saying (the government and
Giscard d'Estaing and the people who wrote the constitution)
'well, don't worry about part three, this is not really the
issue, that is just a recap of all the things that were in the
previous treaties, so you have been living under that and you
will be living under it.' But people didn't really know Europe
was all encapsulated, all written down in a single document.
Our adversaries never quoted the text. Once you start to quote
it, and people find out what's actually in this and find out
what's going to be constitutionalised and not revisable and
not amendable, they get scared to death.

In terms of organising against the constitution, that really
began with the 'call of the 200', which was a document signed
by 200 people coming from different parts of the left,
including movements, trade unions, parties, etc. That
spearheaded the formation of collectives all over France. Now
there are between 800 and 900 grassroots collectives at the
departmental level, city level, or sometimes even smaller.
These collectives have been organising debates all over the
country. I have been in debates ranging from 100 to 5000
participants. The right gets nowhere near these kind of
crowds.

EW: At the start of our campaign we wanted to involve social
movements and NGOs. Our idea was to form a kind of platform as
we had done at the time of the 1997 counter-summit, the
European summit from below, but we found out that none of the
NGOs was ready to take a real position on the constitution. In
particular, they were afraid to publicly opt for the no side.
So basically it was impossible for us to form that kind of
coalition.

We then decided to focus on influencing the terms of the
debate. We began by writing articles on the constitution
ourselves, and we also asked some people from different
political origins, for example from the Social Democrat party
and the Green party, to do the same. So, we even have pieces
written by members of parties that support the yes vote, plus
content analysis and criticisms of the constitution gathered
in one book. We also produced other kind of materials, such as
a brochure in which we outline our main objections against the
constitution. And I think that has been very important,
because from the right-wing side there has been no good
content, there has been almost no content, and I think that
has been a great advantage for us.

SG: We have produced a lot of materials. Books about the
constitution are best-sellers. ATTAC produced a little book
with a picture of Chirac together with Francois Roland, who is
the general secretary of the Socialist party, on the cover of
a popular weekly called Match. The headline was 'they said yes
to each other.' You know, it looks like a gay wedding, and we
have a picture of them ice-skating together and they say yes
to each other. In this booklet we answered all the arguments
of the Socialist party and the centre-right UMP. This sold
38,000 copies in the first week. Then we brought out another
book which explains the Constitution step by step.

Not every criticism of the constitution comes from the
progressive camp. What other political forces are supporting
the no vote?

EW: Part of the right is mobilising around this issue, and
they have been campaigning for the no as well, but until now
it's amazing that we have been able to get more media coverage
than them. Until this week it was basically only our voice
that was arguing for a no vote in the media. Now Geert
Wilders, a right-wing populist politician, is touring with a
bus, so that generates some media attention for him, but still
it's impossible for the government to say that if you oppose
the constitution then you must be a right-wing xenophobe.

SG: I think the yes side is the one advocating a pure and
hardline neo-liberalism. It's about taking Europe into an
American model in which there is little social protection, and
there is competition of everybody against everybody. Public
services would be hugely downgraded, free education and free
health could be very seriously hit. So the yes side is really
offering an American model of competition, in which it's the
market that decides and there is very little politics. The
people will be dispossessed of the possibility to decide much
of anything.

The European Left is divided around this issue. Why are some
political parties supporting the yes vote?

EW: In The Netherlands the Green Left party says yes to the
constitution. So the only left party campaigning for a no vote
is the Socialist party.

The Green party argues that although this is not an ideal
treaty, it makes some progress in terms of improving democracy
at the EU level. Their evaluation is also that, within the
current political context, if you have a renegotiation there
is little chance that anything better will come out. They are
saying that the treaty will make Europe better at dealing with
unemployment, that it contains lots of improvements on
environmental policy, etc. We think that these claims are very
questionable, but that's their line of argument.

SG: I see a lot of similarities between The Netherlands and
France. The Socialists had an internal party referendum and
the leadership came out long ago for the yes (it was about
60-40). The result is that the Socialists are now split,
because two major figures in the party leadership have come
out for the no. One is the former prime minister Laurent
Fabius, and another, Henri Emmanuelli, leads a tendency which
is the furthest to the left. The party leadership has accused
them of playing the game of the far-right fascists, and they
have been insulted and vilified by their own party. This does
not go down too well with the rank and file. In every poll,
more than 50 per cent of people who identify themselves as
Socialists say they will vote no. The same thing goes for the
Greens.

How do you respond to arguments defending the alleged
progressive aspects of the Constitution?

SG: Part one of the constitution is about the distribution of
power and also contains the military clauses. It says very
clearly that NATO is going to be the major component of the
defence of states which belong to the EU. That's in part one,
but still the European Parliament does not have the power to
initiate legislation or to raise taxes, and it has none of the
powers of a normal parliament in a normal country.

Part two is the fundamental charter of rights. Many people
have problems with this, particularly in France, because it's
regressive compared to the French constitution and to other
constitutions that have been written since the 18th century,
including the initial declaration of the rights of men and
women. One of the clauses of the charter, for instance, says
you have the right to look for a job but not that you have the
right to work. Work is not treated as a fundamental right. But
the right to work is the basic grounding of unemployment
compensation, so this is a very serious regression. There are
others. Many women feel that the simple mention that 'everyone
has the right to life' without any mention of women's gains in
various countries is a serious omission, and feel that this
section was so worded because in various countries, including
Portugal and Ireland, there is no right to control over
fertility, abortion, etc.

There are various other things that seem regressive to us and
at the end of the charter it states 'this creates no new tasks
or obligations for the EU and any court decision about it is
not a claimable right.' In other words, court decisions cannot
enforce claimable rights. They can only decide whether the
constitution is being applied or not.

EW: Our main argument is basically the democracy argument, so
in response to what the Green party is saying we acknowledge
that there are some small improvements, such as the fact that
European Parliament in getting a bit more say over EU policies
in some fields. Transparency in the Council of Ministers will
be slightly improved as well. But - there's always a 'but'
going with these improvements - if you talk about transparency
in the Council you must consider that most of the Council
decisions are prepared in committees. The almost a thousand
committees that exist today will remain as un-transparent as
they are now. There's absolutely no scrutiny about what they
are doing, and that situation will not be changed by the
constitution.

The European Parliament has over the years got more powers,
but still you cannot compare it with your national parliament.
The first thing is that there are no real parties: there are
groups in the EU Parliament which some people think are
parties, like the Social Democrats or the Christian Democrat
group, but these do not really function as parties, they are
just a conglomerate of national fractions which operate under
an umbrella. There have been some attempts by the Greens, for
example, to create a European Green party, but those are very
provisional. So in that sense we have a very peculiar kind of
politics, and it's even more peculiar because you don't have a
government with a political party composition. Each country
nominates its own Commissioner and the Commission behaves as a
kind of government, but you don't have the normal dynamics
between governing parties and opposition parties that you'd
see in a representative democracy.

SG: We also use the argument of democracy and the fact that
economic policies are instruments that should not be in a
constitutional document. There is a double executive proposed
in the constitution: one is the Commission, which is defined
as the only entity which can define the common good, that's
its job. And then there is a single president, who is elected
for a renewable term of two and a half years. But that seems
to be a recipe for in-fighting between two different sources
of executive power. In other words, they get rid of the
six-months rotating presidency, where it can go to Finland and
then to Greece, and then to Ireland and so on. So they get rid
of that, which may be a good thing, but in a way which doesn't
seem to be very productive.

Overall, though, our argument comes back to neo-liberalism.
When the constitution was handed by the convention to the
heads of states and governments, their additions and
subtractions made it even more neo- liberal than it was when
it came out of the hands of the convention. Perhaps that
reflects the governments of Europe as they are today. But it
becomes a problem because it is extremely difficult to change
this constitution. As the 1793 French constitution says, 'One
generation should not subject future generations to its laws.'

People who have actually read the text of the constitution
almost always come out of this difficult exercise determined
to vote against it, despite the official financial and media
propaganda for the yes vote, which says 'its more democratic
than what we had'.

If we lose the vote in France it will be a historic defeat.
But I have faith in the intelligence of the French people and
I think we can win.

Edited by Daniel Chavez, with additional editing by Oscar
Reyes Transcription: Marita Nadalutti

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