Monday, June 13, 2005

Europe - rows and arguments

Political discussions and debates have been the dominating factor in the last few weeks. Following a ‘Non’ vote for the European Constitution and a ‘Nee’ in the Nederlands, the scrapping soon started. The UKIP members in Britain and the Conservatives quickly sought publicity on the back of the referendum results, besides their reasons for not backing the constitution being somewhat different from our European counterparts. Much of the reason behind the ‘Non’ vote in France was a lack of explanation, by the ‘Oui’ campaign, of what the EU constitution meant, both for France and Europe. Additionally, Chirac has alienated himself from the far left and with much of the right-wing, represented by the likes of Le Pen, backing the ‘Non’ vote, the constitution was lost. The lack of understanding of what the constitution meant also figured in the Dutch referendum. Unfounded fears that the famous Dutch coffeeshops and cannabis caf├ęs would be at risk from this constitution was one of a number of issues which brought a 65% ‘Nee’. The ‘what next’ debate continued for around a week after the two referendums, but in Britain it was compounded with arguments over Britain’s contribution to Europe. That debate is continuing with strong words exchanged between President Chirac and Tony Blair.
Tony Blair has in the meantime embarked on a quick visit to the US where he met George W Bush last week, and is currently in Moscow meeting with President Putin. Meanwhile, Jack Straw has been left to take the European debate to Brussels.
[11:50 GMT 13/06/2005]

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