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The Constitutional Treaty:The Future of Europe?

Recorded on January 26, 2005

Location: The Heritage Foundation's Lehrman Auditorium

The European Constitutional Treaty has been hailed by some as a symbol of future European unity. Conceived with the unprecedented cooperation of the Union's 25 member states, the Constitutional Treaty has been the subject of intense debate both in Europe and abroad. The framers of the treaty explicitly stated that the new Constitution was designed to replace existing treaties, clarify the division of competencies among the European Union (EU), the states, and the people, and would attempt to lessen the democratic deficit. It was to function as a two-way process, ultimately returning power to the states, as well as the people, while other new competencies were bestowed on Brussels.

Despite these ambitions goals, however, a number of crucial issues continue to threaten the compact's ratification. Beyond the oft-discussed structural difficulties that have frustrated the pursuit of a common foreign and security policy, a number of member states have committed to referenda as a way of building new popular support for the union. However, many find themselves with skeptical populations, eager to upset the vital consensus necessary for the treaty's passage - none more committed to its failure than the United Kingdom (UK) with nearly two out of three of its citizenry prepared to vote "no" on the issue of the referendum if it were held today.

Given these difficulties, what can we expect of Europe? Is there hope that the Constitutional Treaty can pass despite the current climate in the UK and other nations such as Denmark, Ireland and perhaps even France? Join us as our distinguished panel explores these and other critical issues that will be key to the future of Europe.