"Sneaking a constitution through on the sly is a bad idea for all Europeans"
"Regardless of the treaty's merits, this has to be wrong."
On October 18th the leaders of the European Union took the constitution that voters in France and the Netherlands had rejected in 2005,
changed the odd phrase, muddled the odd concept and presented the Lisbon “reform treaty” to the world, boldly declaring
“Ceci n'est pas une constitution” — so there is no need for it to be put to any difficult referendums.
The Economist print 2007-10-25
Still more surreal has been the reaction: nobody other than a few British Eurosceptics really seems to care. Continental voters who once howled about the treaty have shrugged their shoulders; after barely a week many of the conjurors in Brussels have already given up the subterfuge, reassuring everybody that it is a constitution, after all.
The new treaty's opacity is not an accident: it is its raison d'être. Having failed to persuade voters with grand phrasing and unusual candour (the original constitution declared that EU laws had “primacy” over those of mere nations), European leaders reverted to their previous strategy: cramming a long list of innovations and amendments into an unreadable legal text.
The aim was to craft something that could be presented as just another EU treaty, amending previous ones. That in turn allows government leaders to say it is suitable for swift ratification by national parliaments (a deadline of early 2009 has been set), without the need for pesky referendums. So far only Ireland is to hold a national vote on the Lisbon treaty.
Regardless of the treaty's merits, this has to be wrong.
The only reason why there will be no referendums outside Ireland is that they are likely to be lost—in the Netherlands, Britain and perhaps other places.
For an institution desperately short of legitimacy and accountability, that is exactly the wrong excuse.