There's life in the European dream yet

Share

Europe has been conspicuous by its absence in this election campaign. The issue raised its head briefly this week when Tony Blair appeared to renounce his ambition to take Britain into the eurozone. But this failed to make any sort of impact. And apart from that, Europe has been the dog that has stubbornly refused to bark.

Europe has been conspicuous by its absence in this election campaign. The issue raised its head briefly this week when Tony Blair appeared to renounce his ambition to take Britain into the eurozone. But this failed to make any sort of impact. And apart from that, Europe has been the dog that has stubbornly refused to bark.

It all makes for quite a contrast with the situation on the other side of the channel. France has been engrossed in Europe for months, as it prepares for its referendum on the EU constitution to be held in four weeks' time. The issue has been so dominant because there is a strong possibility that French voters might reject it.

This has - understandably -panicked the French political establishment. President Chirac has mounted a desperate campaign to shift the polls in favour of his Government's policy. Jacques Delors, the former head of the European Commission, has appeared on French television to back the constitution. The crisis has even prompted the former socialist prime minister, Lionel Jospin, to return to the political fray. They all recognise that a "no" vote would undermine France's traditional claims to leadership within the EU - possibly fatally.

It is assumed that a French rejection of the constitution would be a welcome relief to our own Prime Minister, as it would probably absolve him of the responsibility of fighting an even more tricky referendum here. But such a high-profile rejection would inevitably raise more problems for Mr Blair than it solves.

And it is important to remember that it is not in Britain's interests for the French to vote "no". If France, one of the founding members of the European Union, were to reject the constitution, it could set the entire European project back by decades. The constitution itself is by no means a perfect document. But the measures to streamline the decision-making procedures within the union are badly needed. And the constitution will help the EU to liberalise its markets and compete internationally.

It would be wrong to despair yet. There is still enough time for the French electorate to recognise where its best interests lie. And as the successful accession of 10 new countries into the union a year ago demonstrates, there is still considerable life left in the European dream.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Sustainability Manager

Competitive: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Scheme Manager (BREEAM)...

Graduate Sustainability Professional

Flexible, depending on experience: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: T...

Programme Director - Conduct Risk - London

£850 - £950 per day: Orgtel: Programme Director - Conduct Risk - Banking - £85...

Project Coordinator/Order Entry, SC Clear

£100 - £110 per day: Orgtel: Project Coordinator/Order Entry Hampshire

Day In a Page

Read Next
Former N-Dubz singer Tulisa Contostavlos gives a statement outside Southwark Crown Court after her trial  

It would be wrong to compare brave Tulisa’s ordeal with phone hacking. It’s much worse than that

Matthew Norman
The Big Society Network was assessed as  

What became of Cameron's Big Society Network?

Oliver Wright
Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn