Retailed to us via The Times, Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, former French President and author of the failed EU constitution, has written in Le Monde that by making "cosmetic" changes to the constitution "public opinion will be led to adopt, without knowing it, the proposals that we dare not present to them directly".
He argues that "if governments agree on a simplified treaty preserving the essential institutional advances, they should not be afraid to say so and write so". Efforts were underway to try to "conserve part of the innovations of the Constitutional Treaty and to camouflage them by breaking them up into several texts".
He said: "The most innovative elements will be the object of simple amendments to the Maastricht and Nice treaties. The technical improvements would be regrouped into a bland and painless treaty. The sum of these texts will be presented to parliaments, which will vote on them separately. Thus public opinion will be led to adopt, without knowing it, the proposals that we dare not present to them 'directly'."
That is, of course, exactly the technique adopted with the draft Treaty of the European Union, as proposed by Spinelli in 1984 which, on the advice of Mitterrand, was broken into two bite-sized chunks to become the Single European Act and the Maastricht Treaty.
The trouble is that that is the way the EU works. It is a constant process of grabbing what you can get away with, denying that you want more and then, in the fullness of time, coming back for more – in a never-ending process. The only thing new, therefore, is that, for once, Giscard seems happy to admit that this is the plan.