SNP Slam "Deeply Worrying" EU Constitution Referendum Proposal

09 February 2006

Europe Spokesman Alyn Smith MEP has today (Wednesday) reactedwith horror to a speech to the European Parliament in Strasbourg bythe Austrian President suggesting that there should be an all-Europereferendum on the proposed EU constitution, already rejected by theDutch and French voters.

The proposal was floated in the Strasbourg Parliament as part of awide ranging speech by the Austrian President to mark the AustrianPresidency of the EU, which they took over from the UK on 1 January.The Austrians have made no secret of their desire to see theconstitution rehabilitated. Despite the rejection of theconstitution by the French and Dutch voters, the ratification processacross Europe has continued in certain countries, with the FlemishParliament ratifying the document on Wednesday 8 February, therebyallowing Belgium to ratify and bring the total number of states tohave ratified the constitution to fourteen out of the 25 memberstates.

Speaking after the speech Mr Smith said:

"They just don't get it! The constitution was rejected by thevoters, so the Austrians are trying to find a way to ram it throughanyway. The constitution was just not the way to go for the EU, itwould have fossilised the existing Treaties at precisely the time theEU needs to reinvent itself.

"Aside from anything, it was clearly rejected by the French and theDutch, and I suspect that any number of other countries would haverejected it also, not least Scotland where a majority of Scotland'sMEPs are against the constitution as drafted and people are scepticalof the EU in general.

"I'm increasingly concerned that the UK is going to be caughtunawares by the debate moving on here without the UK copping on ortaking part. The EU badly needs reform, but the constitution wouldnot achieve it, in my view it would on balance make things worse.What worries me is that many months into the 'period of reflection'called after the two no votes, no government has come up with analternative vision for the EU so the constitution is still the onlygame in town. Is the UK government, which supported the constitutionremember, actually quite in favour of bringing it in by the backdoor?

"The SNP wants to see an EU of member states co-operating where itmakes sense, but making their own decisions jointly or with smallernumber of states as appropriate. The EU has to focus upon where itactually adds value, where right now the focus is upon an everincreasing list of competences and the mechanics of the constitutionto foist them on a sceptical public. I want to see a referendum inScotland, but if an individual state says no then the constitutionshould not take effect in that state, and an EU wide referendum wouldstrike at the heart of national self determination."