But considering it was largely the unconvincing zombie resurrection of the old Constitution anyway, it probably won’t be fully dead until someone’s cut its head off, put a stake through its heart, shot it repeatedly with silver bullets, smothered it in garlic-infused holy water, and tricked it into saying its name backwards three times.
Note to the EU: for Christ’s sake, can we please actually THINK about the next step this time? In detail? Preferably without the assumption that the people are too stupid to notice what you’re trying to pull on them (thus alienating them yet further from a project which seems increasingly separated from the needs of the European people) – and ideally with the people in full, genuine consultation at every stage.
The continent of Europe is far, far too diverse for such idealistic “one size fits all” projects to have any place in future EU planning – unless it’s the most basic statement of shared ideals and principles, along the lines of the American declaration of independence or the US constitution. Surely that much is obvious? Just like the American colonies – only far, far more so – Europe is not made up of one united people; we are many peoples with much shared history and culture, but with plenty that also divides us in terms of hopes, dreams and aspirations. The old Constitution, the Lisbon Treaty – hell, pretty much every EU and EEC treaty ever ratified – failed sufficiently to acknowledge this, and so failed to allay concerns. The longer this went on – especially as the EU’s power and presence seemed to continue to grow without so much as a by your leave from a democratic vote – the more annoyed, the more distrustful the people of Europe were bound to become.
The European project was started by political elites as a trade association with delusions of grandeur. It is now much, much more than that, with competence creep after competence creep. It is too unwieldy and unaccountable for the people of a continent with more than its fair experience of despotism and dictatorship not to start taking offence if it continues down the route of “what we say goes, and there’s not much you can do about it”.
I believe in the principles behind the European Union. I believe that the European Union has done far, far more good than harm both in Europe itself and worldwide. I believe that the European Union should continue. But not in the direction it is currently heading. Not with the attitude it has currently got.
The Lisbon Treaty is dead – don’t make the same mistake as last time of trying to dress up the corpse to make it look a bit different. Accept the fundamental failure of the treaty (and constitution), and accept that a far more radical solution is vital. A complete rethink. A deep, serious analysis of what the EU is and what it is for – and, most importantly, what the European people think it is for. This is something that hasn’t happened in decades, but that is absolutely essential if the EU is to avoid the further alienation of its citzens – citizens who, it should be noted, have not all been asked if they want such citizenship in the first place.
The EU has evolved gradually over the years based on vague dreams. It’s time for a reality check.
Update: As the count’s not final yet (this post was written at around 15:30 UK time), keep an eye on the Irish Times’ Lisbon Treaty site, with real-time updates. The current tally is 46.3% yes, 53.7% no. Elsewhere I’ve seen turnouts estimated at 40-45% – not huge, but not bad for EU-related elections, and more than the last Irish rejection of a European treaty back in 2001, even if the margin of rejection seems to be smaller this time…