ROME, JUNE 13, 2005 (Zenit.org).- Does the rejection by French and Dutch voters of the European Constitutional Treaty represent a rejection of Europe or of the policies pursued by the Union?
In this interview with ZENIT, Mario Mauro, vice president of the European Parliament, analyzes this question.
Q: After France, the popular vote in the Netherlands also rejected Europe’s Constitutional Treaty. In your opinion, what are the reasons for this opposition?
Mauro: The victory of the “no” in France demonstrates how one cannot take for granted that a Constitution that doesn’t say anything must without a doubt find an easier consensus in respect of a text that has more committed and profound political meanings.
The French and Dutch, in fact, have rejected an empty Constitutional Treaty, in which no ideal is expressed, no political plan and no proposal for the future.
It was a “no” against the reduction of the Europe, designed by Robert Schuman, Alcide De Gasperi and Konrad Adenauer, to a bureaucratic apparatus that is not very transparent and at the service of lobbies.
Nevertheless, the vote expressed by the French people must not be regarded as a triumph. In it is hidden a sign that should attract the attention of those who want the good of Europe.
Those who voted “no” in fact would like a Constitution which in many aspects would be worse than the one signed in Rome in November 2004.
French and Dutch citizens, worried about unemployment, expressed their disagreement with an EU incapable of drawing Europe out of economic stagnation and decline.
In this connection, I consider it plausible to interpret this “no” as a response to the welfare cuts requested several times by Brussels. But how much longer will welfare last in Europe based on an economic system in collapse?
The French and Dutch referendums rejected a Europe unable to influence international politics. The rejection of the principle of war evidences in fact the European incapacity to manage the Balkans’ crisis and, since then, to have a compact presence in the different international crises. Beyond a widespread anti-Americanism, how much do the French and Dutch want a Europe that is really capable of intervening in international crises?
Q: How much of this opposition to the Constitutional Treaty coincides with the criticisms Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI have expressed, given the moral and religious relativism that pursues utopias without God and against the family?
Mauro: Going back to the previous question, I have wondered if the French and Dutch expressed, through their vote, disagreement with the lack of recognition of the Christian roots in the European Constitution. The answer I have reached is, sadly, negative.
Nevertheless, for the community institutions and the subjects of European politics the imperative duty is again posed to respond to the question “What does Europe believe in?” following the guideline of the understanding of our roots.
If Europe does not want to be only an economic alliance, but a real union of peoples and nations, it must, above all, recognize its own roots. Europe is not a continent that can be fully framed in geographic terms, but a cultural and historical concept.
A Constitutional Charter capable of restoring and guaranteeing full dignity to all within the compact and united horizon of the common good cannot neglect the European cultural identity.
The French and Dutch “no” must be the beginning of a new battle for respect of that religious freedom that Europe is increasingly forgetting. Man must become aware of the ultimate meaning of things.
It is a battle of freedom, a battle of our time to make our society a free society in respect of the fundamentalist and relativist models we are dangerously approaching.
This is the necessary condition not to stop before the limits of the result reached until now and, in accordance with the words expressed by Barroso, “to transform this difficult moment into a new opportunity” for the building of the new Europe.
Q: It seems increasingly obvious that there is a certain separation between the position of the political forces, the Brussels institutions and the population. In France and the Netherlands the people voted in higher percentages than in political consultations and, in the majority, voted against the European Constitutional Treaty. Is it not, perhaps, the moment to discuss again the idea of Europe proposed up to now?
Mauro: The building of Europe must overcome two errors which today are being revealed as very dangerous: state ownership and bureaucracy.
What is at stake is particularly important and all European citizens are called to be conscious of it, to at last be protagonists of a building, the European one, which in the last years has always been made above their heads.
Today it is increasingly evident that, since the 1970s, with the development which has been called in journalistic terms the Europe of “eurocracies,” that is, the Europe of Brussels, there has been an alienation from the principle of being able to be united on what is essential.
The great idea of the founding fathers of Europe was the idea of a Europe that is concerned about very few things.
For Adenauer, it was the Europe that again debated the role of a multinational and supranational organism which, for example, the Holy Roman Empire had — a Europe understood as an institution which has the responsibility of foreign policy, defense and, therefore, a reason to propose its own point of view to the world on international questions, on questions of peace, which are the instrument through which there is prosperity, money and taxation. And today, on this point, we are still only halfway there.
Q: What will happen if other referendums are held which are opposed to the European Constitutional Treaty?
Mauro: The “no” expressed by France and the Netherlands, to which is added Tony Blair’s decision to suspend the British referendum, determines a political condition already in existence, so that further rejections of the Constitutional Treaty would do no more than increase the possibility of the blunder of the Constitution’s coming into effect, foreseen for the beginning of 2007.
The 25 heads of state and government are now called to give a first response to this problem in the European Council scheduled for June 16-17.
If the Constitution’s coming into effect is canceled, the EU will continue to base itself on the Maastricht Treaty and the modifications contributed by the Amsterdam and Nice Treaties.