Political Cataclysm: The Constitutional Treaty and Europe's Democratic Deficit
Recorded on June 7, 2005
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.