IT is exactly one year since the Dutch and French electorates rejected the European Union Constitution in referendums. In this space I described the outcome as A Tragedy, a viewpoint I still hold. At the weekend the Austrian presidency of the EU held a meeting to decide what should now be done about the Constitution as the period of reflection proposed by Tony Blair comes to an end. It is worth remembering that the Constitution has already been ratified by 15 of the 25 EU members, in some cases, including Spain's, by referendum. If nothing is done to revive the Constitution these countries, a majority, would be entitled to ask why their approval is being ignored. On the other hand, it is clear that other countries, for instance, Britain, the Czech Republic and Denmark would still be very unlikely to vote in favour. There has been discussion about cherry-picking some of the better ideas in the Constitution and finding ways of bringing these into operation without seeking approval of the complete document; however, the final text was achieved only by complex negotiation involving give-and-take across a wide range of issues. Despite all these difficulties, no one for the moment wants to throw the Constitution away. One of its strongest supporters is Germany which takes over the presidency in January next year and has undertaken to bring forward new proposals for resolving the Constitution issue. For the moment, more reflection!
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