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More on the ratification question

Posted by Richard Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Excerpt from memo from the National Platform EU Research and Information Centre, Dublin.

Article IV-8 of the "Draft Treaty Establishing a Constitution for Europe", to give the proposed new EU Treaty its proper title, provides that it must be ratified by all the EU Member States "in accordance with their respective constitutional requirements" in order to enter into force. This is the usual formula governing the ratification of EC/EU treaties. It means that ALL 25 Member States of the enlarged EU must ratify the proposed Treaty/Constitution and it cannot come into force for any of them without coming into force for all.

A Declaration - which is a political statement that is not legally part of a treaty and is therefore not legally binding - is attached to the Draft Treaty, entitled "Declaration In The Final Act of Signature of the Treaty Establishing the Constitution." This reads: "If, two years after the signature of the Treaty establishing the Constitution, four-fifths of the Member States have ratified it and one or more States have encountered difficulties in proceeding with ratification, the matter will be referred to the European Council", that is, the Council of EU Presidents and Prime Ministers.

If one or more States are unwilling to ratify, however, there is nothing legally that the Presidents and Prime Ministers of the other EU States can do to make them change their minds. All EU treaties are treaties between States that are constitutionally and legally equal, which is why they must be ratified unanimously.

In theory the Member States that wanted to be ruled by an EU Constitution could go off and found a different and separate EU among themselves, with a different euro-currency and a different Commission, Council, Parliament etc., leaving the non-ratifying States with the present EU, and all its resources, institutions, including the existing euro, and its network of international treaties; but that is not a realistic option.

There is no mechanism for expelling a State or States from the EU because they are reluctant to repeal all the existing EC/EU treaties and found what is politically, legally and constitutionally quite a new EU, with legal personality for the first time, based on its own State Constitution, and give that Constitution primacy over their own Constitutions and laws, as is done in Article I-10 of the Draft Treaty. Any attempt to do or threaten this by EU States and interests that desire to push through an EU Constitution, is just so much bluff.

The political reality is that if a small State like Ireland or Denmark votes No to an EU Treaty, its own Government in conjunction with the governments of the other EU States will put its citizens under massive pressure to vote again and "get it right" a second time around. If a Big State votes against, that is politically the end of the matter, for its Government would not dare put exactly the same Treaty before its voters again, and its voters would jib at being bullied by other EU States and the EU Commission.

As the demand for more referendums on the proposed EU Constitution spreads across Europe it is clearly important that this should be coupled with the call that if voters in any EU State, Small or Big, say No to refounding the EU on the basis of its own (State) Constitution, their verdict will be respected and that will be the end of the matter.

There must be no more concerted bullying of electorates reluctant to abolish what is left of their national democracy by eurofanatical EU Governments, hand-in-glove with the EU Commission and the international European Movement, as occurred during Ireland's second Nice referendum and in last year's Accession Referendums in most of the 10 new EU Member States.