Sunday, May 30, 2004

Has Prodi finally lost it?

According to today’s Sunday Telegraph, Prodi is calling for a Europe-wide vote on the constitution on the same day. He feels that a "yes" vote across all member states would drive the EU forward at a "very high speed".

Nevertheless, the idea was immediately denounced as "unworkable" by British officials. It would also be irrelevant. Even if there was an EU-wide vote on the same day, if Britain voted "no" it would be enough to block the constitution.

That apart, and not raised in the Telegraph article, Germany is constitutionally barred from holding referendums and, with a major player absent, the idea is a non-starter.

There is also another problem. For obvious reasons, referendums cannot be fought at the same time as a general election, yet there is no period in the next two years when one or other of the twenty-five member states will not be holding such an election – not least Britain, Italy and Poland. For that reason also, the idea is a non-starter.

What is intriguing is why Prodi should lend his name to such a hare-brained scheme. This idea is not new, and the objections identified above have already been aired. Has Prodi finally lost it?

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