Wednesday, 1 June 2005

Austria moots Europe-wide referendum

Austrian chancellor Wolfgang Schüssel has revived the idea of an EU-wide referendum on the constitution, following France's rejection of the document on Sunday and a probable Dutch No today.
According to reports in the Austrian press, Mr Schüssel believes EU leaders could decide on a pan-European referendum in just over two weeks time when they gather for their traditional June summit. A principle agreement then could lead to an intergovernmental conference where member states decide on the legal basis for such a procedure.
At the moment, a Europe-wide referendum would not be legally binding and would only be of symbolic value, according to the Chancellor.Mr Schüssel believes that a Europe-wide referendum should take place on one day and the constitution would only be considered adopted if over half of member states and over half of the EU population voted in favour of it.He is set to raise the issue today when he meets Luxembourg prime minister and current head of the EU, Jean-Claude Juncker, for a bilateral discussion on the future EU budget.
This is not the first time, the Austrian leader has mooted the idea. He raised it last year before the ratification process began in member states but the idea did not curry favour in most of the rest of the EU.Meanwhile, elsewhere in the EU, politicians are wondering about the political and legal implications of one and possibly two rejections of the constitution.
EU leaders have generally kept quiet about whether ratification can continue after such a scenario, with speculation in the British press that prime minister Tony Blair will call off his planned referendum. The Polish government is to meet this week to take a final decision on what to do.But some have already said that ratification should stop.
According to the FT, Giuliano Amato, one of the principle architects of the treaty, said that there may be nothing left of the constitution to rescue if ratification continues in other countries.Fearing a domino effect caused by the French No, Mr Amato suggested that instead some parts of the document be "transplanted" into the Treaty of Nice, where the EU's current decision-making process is laid out.
By Honor Mahony

No comments:


My personal world map

Visited Countries
Visited Countries Map from TravelBlog