France and the Netherlands spit the face of United Europe

The failure of one or two referendum may produce the effect of dominoes

Another founder of the European Union, the Netherlands, rejected the idea of the European Constitution. According to the results of the referendum, which took place on Wednesday, 61,6 percent of the Netherlanders do not want the document to be ratified. Only 38,4 percent of the Dutch supported the basic European law. The Netherlands thus became the second country of the European Union, which turned the idea of the joint constitution down.

Despite the advisory character of the referendum in the Netherlands, political parties of the nation's parliament obliged to take account of the electors' will, if the turnout exceeded 30 percent. The turnout set a record – 62,8 percent of citizens of the Netherlands went to the polls. The Parliament of the Netherlands started discussing the results of the nation's will yesterday. The European Constitution will most likely not be ratified in this country. The Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende told parliamentarians that the results of the national referendum were not aimed against Europe. The people are concerned about their sovereignty and individuality, the prime minister of the Netherlands said.

The European Constitution suffered two shattering failures within only one week.  The future of the European Union has been called into question. European old-timers do not accept the sweeping expansion of the EU – this is one of the main reasons to disclaim the constitution. Ten countries joined the European Union in 2004; the majority of them were the countries of Eastern Europe. “The European Union has failed to reach its prime goal – the smooth combination of two parallel processes: the deepening of the European integration and the expansion of the European Union,” a spokeswoman for the Center of the European Research of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Nadezhda Arbatova, told the Vremya Novostei newspaper. “Integration fell victim to the hasty expansion,” the expert added.

The EU stipulates the mechanism of repeated referendums: the process to ratify the European Constitution will continue. The previous experience of the document's ratification in nine states (Germany, Austria, Lithuania, Hungary, Slovenia, Italy, Greece, Slovakia and Spain) showed that the procedure is a lot faster if it does not involve people.

Parliaments usually approve the constitution without any big problems. The Latvian parliament successfully ratified the constitution yesterday, for example. Seventy-one Latvian deputies voted for, and only five voted against the document). It is noteworthy that East-Europeans newcomers are too enthusiastic: if Latvia held a national referendum, its results would most likely coincide with the parliament's opinion on the matter.

Referendums will take place in seven other countries: Luxemburg, Denmark, Ireland, Portugal, Great Britain, the Czech Republic and Poland. Warsaw will hold the referendum regardless of “Old Europe's” will. The results of the referendums in France and the Netherlands may influence the further process greatly. Luxemburg may reject the European Constitution on July 10th. British and Czech officials say that the ratification process should be suspended and national referendums cancelled.

The chairman of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso, asked EU members not to take single-handed initiatives before the EU summit in Brussels (the summit is to take place on June 16-17th). French President Chirac and German Chancellor Schroeder will discuss the constitutional question in Berlin tomorrow.

The Administration of the European Union prefers not to change its views and decisions under the pressure of those countries, where nationalistic sentiments are rather strong. “Signals from France, the Netherlands, and other countries of the EU's center will eventually result in a change of the EU expansion strategy,” Nadezhda Arbatova believes. The forthcoming EU summit will be able to develop a new strategy for united Europe, which will probably help ratify the European Constitution by 2007, the expert believes.

It is noteworthy that the majority of French and Dutch citizens are concerned about their own security and financial stability. France and the Netherlands have turned into most multinational European countries. The number of immigrants from third world countries has already exceeded the ten-percent level there, having created a lot of problems for the two states.

It goes about the natives of Muslim states, first and foremost. There are more than five million Arabs residing in present-day France: nationals of Algeria, Morocco and Tunis. In addition to a high criminality level and low living standards (in comparison with traditional norms of the native population), many Arabs are involved in Islamite terrorist groups.

The situation with Muslims in Holland is a lot more complicated. There are three large Islamic communities there: Moroccans, Turks and Indonesians. In addition to their evident unwillingness to become assimilated with the native population of the Netherlands, the Muslims act rather aggressively. Film director Theo Van Gogh and rightist politicians Pim Fortuyn were murdered for their critical remarks about Islam. It goes without saying that anti-Muslim sentiments increased a lot in the Netherlands after such blatant crimes.

It brings up the idea that the European integration project will be inevitably suspended for a certain period of time, Utro.Ru wrote. It will not be possible to enact the constitution without the universal approval of the document by all 25 members of the European Union. So far, the list counts only nine states, which said “Yes.” Experts say, however, that the failure of one or two referendum may produce the effect of dominoes.

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Author`s name Olga Savka