by MONITOR
IT is becoming clear that one of the reasons why the European Union needs a constitution is that without one its leaders cannot speak with a single mind even on basic ”constitutional” issues. From the moment that the Treaty creating the constitution was initialled by leaders of the member states there has been confusion about the ratification arrangements. The general guidance was that the Treaty could not come into legal existence unless all 25 member countries of the EU approved it, either by parliamentary vote or by referendum, by the end of 2006. Since then, however, there have been frequent nods-and-winks from various quarters to the effect that the significance of rejection of the Treaty by a country would depend on the “importance” of the country concerned and the scale of the rejection. Others have insisted that approval must be on the basis of “all or nothing”. Yesterday, almost on the very eve of the French and Dutch referendums which are both thought likely to return a “No” majority, the current President of the Council of Ministers of the EU, Jean-Claude Juncker of Luxembourg, said in an interview in the Belgian Le Soir newspaper: “The countries which have said No will have to ask themselves the question again.” The timing and content of Mr Juncker's intervention could not have been more unhelpful. If he thinks that French and Dutch people planning to say No on Sunday and next Wednesday are likely to change their minds and say Yes, just in order to avoid a re-run, he is almost certainly mistaken. The effect is more likely to be the reverse, an inclination to make sure that the No outcome is as convincing as possible. The idea that referendums should be held over and over again until the “right” answer is obtained is profoundly undemocratic and Mr Juncker's ideas should be ignored.