Massive ‘no’ to the European Constitution should consign it to history


The Netherlands' NEE – three days after the French NON – should have served as a loud wake-up call for politicians and Eurocrats in Brussels as well as for the leaders of 25 member state governments. The situation brought about by these results should be clear. The proposed Constitution must be consigned to the dustbin of history and a halt called to any further European integration until the people of Europe have had a real chance to say what forms of international cooperation they favour.

No-one seriously believes that social progress, environmental protection, justice and lasting peace can be achieved without structured cooperation between nations. The question – and it is one which is never put to the people of those nations – is just what kind of cooperation we would like to see, and in pursuit of what goals. The two referendum results reflect people's anger that the increasingly arrogant and out-of-touch political elite believed it could institute a set of political and economic structures intended to be permanent on the basis of a document which could be understood only by those with an intimate knowledge of the current EU and its recent history.

The whole exercise was an is an audacious con, and the fact that the people of two of the original six EEC member states have seen right through it is the most positive political development for decades.
European and global integration is a fact. But the character and tempo of that integration were what provoked the people to vote No. As Jan Marijnissen, the leader of the Socialist Party - the only significant Dutch political party to campaign for a No - put it:

“Politics should seize the advantage offered by this powerful signal and produce an alternative to this constitution: easy to understand, clear, free of a neoliberal agenda and respectful of the diversity and individuality of the member states. To achieve this, the debate which has now started must continue.”

Mr Marijnissen's party is moving to organise a National Convention in which the party will get together with citizens' and social organisations, trade unionists and activist groups to discuss the future of the EU and the Netherlands' future in Europe. Similar initiatives should now be prepared in every member state and beyond, not with the idea of finding “an alternative to the European Union” - the best alternative to the EU is no EU – but to bypass this neoliberal club and work out ways in which we can work together across national, linguistic and cultural frontiers, not only inside Europe but in every part of the world, to bring an end to poverty and war and attack every form of injustice.

Whatever the shabby little band of nonentities who organised this colossal waste of taxpayers' money may say, their bogus constitution will soon be a footnote to history. It is up to us to write the next chapter.