Analysis: Where does the French result leave the constitution?

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The Independent Online

Does the French 'no' kill the EU constitution?

Does the French 'no' kill the EU constitution?

To come into force the constitution must be ratified by all 25 member countries. Each can choose whether this is done by the national parliament or a popular vote. The constitution could still be ratified by the French parliament, perhaps after the next presidential election in 2007, if the next president is elected on a pro-constitution platform, but that would leave questions hanging over the legitimacy of the document. The alternatives are to have another vote or to abandon the text, at least for the time being. If the Dutch also vote "no" on Wednesday, the second option is the more likely.

Would the lack of a constitution stop the EU working?

No. The existing Nice Treaty allows for the expansion of the EU that took place last year and the day to day business of Brussels can carry on as at present, though without reforms to make decision-making more effective.

Why do some want to continue with referendums in other countries?

Technically, a tally should be taken after all countries have considered the constitution. If, at the end of the process, 20 out of 25 approve, then the EU heads of government will consider what to do next. However this provision was framed in the expectation a Eurosceptic country would say "no" - not that France would be the naysayer.

Could the French be offered concessions to persuade them to vote 'yes' in a second vote?

The constitution has already been ratified by nine countries so it cannot be changed in substance without starting from scratch. But one idea is for a declaration from all 25 countries, guaranteeing the European social model. That would counter the argument that France is threatened by Europe's liberal economic policies and competition from low-cost Eastern European economies.

Is that a runner?

Unlikely. Such a statement would almost certainly upset the chances of winning a "yes" vote in some of the other countries that are putting the constitution to a referendum.

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