A campaign for a pan-European referendum on the Constitution – how sexy does that sound?

Another campaign for 1 million signatures has just been launched by the federalists: www.europeanreferendum.eu. Both JEF (Young European Federalists) and UEF (Union of European Federalists) agreed on a campaign aimed to gather public support for the idea of a pan-European referendum on the European Constitution.

I’m not a great fun of referendums in general, but it’s true that on this one there are not many ways out. It’s the rule of politics: once you set the ball rolling is difficult to stop it. And since we have had 4 referendums on the Constitution in the previous round of ratifications (oh, let’s face it it’s over…), we should expect more in any next that appears on the agenda. So, we have to grasp with it.

I actually graduated from this topic and the research brought me to a conclusion that yes, we should look forward to pan-European referendums on European issues. As federalist and European I believe that as much as normal politics include referendums, European politics should as well. So nothing new on this. But, the problem is where to start. I think starting on such a divisive issue as the Constitution, where “losers” indeed are left out, isn’t the smartest strategy of all. I would have supported a pan-European referendum on the introduction of the Euro for example.

Now, in details such a referendum (as explained in the FAQ section of the website) would require a double majority: that of the European citizens and that of member states. The countries saying no, would be left out to decide what they want to do next. Fair enough. But when the basic structure of European integration is at stake, I wonder if such a situation would be positive. I’m sure that a referendum on the Euro would have left some countries out, but it wouldn’t be so tough on the “losers”.

And plus, only a referendum at the end of an intergovernmental bargaining (Merkel’s sherpas) does not really improve democratic participation. The campaign should also try to avoid slogans like “Let the European people decide”…Although sounds nice it simplifies the issue way too much. I wonder how many Eurosceptics will join:)

One further question to JEF: how many young people will get enthusiastic about “a pan-European referendum on the European Constitution”?…besides the standard EU-geeks, only few I think.

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