Lousewies van der Laan: The constitution is dead but this vote is still important

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The Independent Online

The French "no" means that the constitution is dead. We are stuck with Europe as it is now: undemocratic, unwieldy and badly equipped for the tasks Europeans ask of it.

The French "no" means that the constitution is dead. We are stuck with Europe as it is now: undemocratic, unwieldy and badly equipped for the tasks Europeans ask of it.

We still need to find a way to tackle cross- border problems such as crime and terrorism. We still need to find a way to stop superfluous legislation on bananas and condoms. We still need to get democratic control over €40bn (£27bn) of agricultural subsidies and a way to stop dumping farm produce in Africa.

And for those of us who do not share all the values of China or of George Bush, we still need to find a way to let the European voice be heard. That was why the constitution was drafted in the first place.

It is no use leaving this to the "no" camp. Try putting the racist Le Pen with Communist leaders and they will not come up with an answer. The responsibility still remains with mainstream politicians to shape Europe so that people feel comfortable with it.

But at the same time we have a much larger challenge: involving Europeans in integration.

Tomorrow there will be a referendum for the first time in 200 years in my country, the Netherlands. No matter what the outcome, this is an initial step in healing the rift that has developed here - as elsewhere - between politicians and those they (claim to) represent.

The writer is a Liberal Dutch MEP

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