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Jun 07

Political Cataclysm: The Constitutional Treaty and Europe's Democratic Deficit

Location: The Heritage Foundation's Lehrman Auditorium

The French vote on May 29 was far from being a little bump in the road towards European integration. The facts are stark enough; with massive turnout of 70 percent, French voters rejected the EU Constitution by 55-45 percent. Just days later, the Kingdom of the Netherlands has added its own democratic rejection of what was to be Europe's future. The Union, it would seem, has reached the fork in the road.

There are reasons for this stunning turn of events. The French and Dutch results must be seen as part of a bigger earthquake - a popular rejection of the continental European elite. Each of the primary reasons is actually pan-European and cannot be wished away as a little local difficulty. First, however one feels about European integration, few can really dispute the fact that the European Constitution is a terrible document, barely comprehensible to any non-specialist. Second, there is on the continent an economic crisis discrediting the entire ruling class of Europe. Third, political sclerosis has brought the same European leaders to power year after year, decade after decade. New blood and new thinking are desperately needed. Finally, there is a failure of the vague ideology behind European integration itself. Europe desperately needs an open debate on what it wants to be, a debate that has not been honestly undertaken until now.

So the three obvious questions have to be: What do the French and Dutch "No's" vote truly mean for France, the Netherlands and for Europe? How should the United States respond? And how could so many analysts and experts on the EU in Washington get it so wrong? Please join us as we explore these questions and more with our distinguished panel of European experts.

More About the Speakers

Reginald Dale
Editor-in-Chief, European Affairs Magazine

Lee Casey
Partner, Baker & Hostetler LLP

John C. Hulsman
Senior Research Fellow, European Affairs,
The Heritage Foundation

Hosted By

Helle C. Dale Helle C. Dale

Senior Fellow for Public Diplomacy Read More