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A whiff of panic?

Posted by Richard Friday, June 03, 2005

Schröder is to hold an "emegency summit" with Chirac this weekend to discuss what Deutche Welle calls "the crisis unfolding after the French and Dutch rejection of the EU constitution".

With L'Escroc enjoying – if that is the word – the lowest approval rating for any French president since surveys were started in 1979, standing currently at 24 percent after a fall of eight points in a month, the meeting is to be in Berlin on Saturday, when the two leaders will "take stock of the situation" at a working dinner.

This follows a flurry of meetings following the resounding Dutch "nee", with Schröder also having travelled to Luxembourg yesterday to hold crisis talks with the egregious Jean-Claude Juncker.

The only good news to have come their way is that the Latvian parliament ratified the treaty yesterday, by a margin of 71-5 with six abstentions, but this is seen against the background of support ebbing away in Luxembourg, with the latest poll now standing at 46-33 in favour of the "yes" vote, the first time it has fallen below 50 percent.

To add to the woes, a yet to be published opinion poll reports the "no" vote in Denmark at 39 percent, as opposed to 30 percent for the "yes" camp.

Senior German officials have now admitted that, even before the Dutch vote, Blair had begun lobbying to win over countries to call for an end to the ratification process and, yesterday, the British government called on France and the Netherlands to state publicly whether there was any future for the constitution.

Cracks are now showing with the "colleagues". Portugal and Denmark have indicated that they would suspend their referendums if Britain did so and unattributed reports abound that foreign minister Jack Straw will announce a UK suspension to the House of Commons on Monday.

Meanwhile, Swedish Prime Minister Göran Persson said yesterday that it would be "dangerous" and "stupid" for other EU member states to ignore the rejection of the constitution by French and Dutch voters.

According to the Swedish news agency TT, he declared: "The most dangerous thing now, the most stupid and in my opinion, the least sensible political thing, would be to send a signal that we are not influenced by this. It is clear that we are." Persson added that there was a "current of thinking among European leaders" that the results of the referendums should be ignored. This was misguided, he said.

Nevertheless, Persson expects to continue his own country's ratification process, but his spokesman, Lars Danielsson, has acknowledged that pressure for a referendum, rather than a simple parliamentary ratification, will grow.

One by one, the dominoes seem to be falling and this Blog's prediction is beginning to look a teensy, weensy bit shaky – not that we could ever be wrong. Perish the thought.