Monday, June 13, 2005

Constitution "to be quietly ditched"

That is according to a Press Association report, via the Scotsman website, which claims that the constitution will be ditched by EU leaders at the European Council this week. It will be done, the report says, without any formal announcement of its demise, the treaty being allowed to slip quietly into infamy.

The PA cites unnamed "senior EU sources" after, it says, Jack Straw had "also delivered a clear signal that the treaty is effectively dead". This followed the General Affairs Council meeting in Luxembourg, which broke up today without agreement on the budget question.

Straw is cited as saying: "The indications are, I think, that there is a general consensus that decisions on whether to proceed with ratification or not should be left to individual member states."

It is being suggested that the Council communiqué will make no reference to the ratification deadline, instead stating that governments can make their own decisions. We are told that EU officials are also considering a more concrete declaration of a "freeze" in the ratification process. "The whole thing is being kicked into some very long grass indeed," said one official, adding: "You could say it is effectively dead."

The report, of course, must be treated with caution. Even if correct, in the highly volatile atmosphere of pre-Council negotiations, the situation could change many times before an agreed line is taken. Furthermore, there is always a chance that this is "kite-flying", so the issue could in fact be far from settled. As always, we must wait for the fat lady to sing.

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