Mini-Treaty for Europe

6 July 2008

Mini-Treaty for Europe

In eleven months, on 4th June 2009, we will be able to vote in elections for the European Parliament. Everyone now believes that these will be exciting. The first question on everyone's lips is whether we will be able to build on the success of 2006. This would involve winning five seats instead of our present two, which would be sensational. The second question is, just what are these elections about? This is what the SP's manifesto committee gave its attention to yesterday.

Harry van Bommel By Harry van Bommel

Manifesto committees do their work behind closed doors before anyone else is thinking about the elections. They ask themselves what the spirit of the party's programme should be and what answers it should offer to the electorate's most important questions. What became evident yesterday was that these would be difficult questions, and that the reason for this was the Irish 'no' to the Lisbon Treaty. Of course the Irish were perfectly right to say 'no' to a treaty which in essence is the same as the European Constitution. That's just what we would have done in the Netherlands had we be given the opportunity to do so. On the basis of the Irish 'no' the Polish president is now refusing to approve the treaty, while in Germany there are also problems. In Germany in particular, this question could take up a great deal of time, perhaps even so much time that the matter won't be settled before next June. That would inevitably have a major influence on the elections for the European Parliament.

The manifesto commission also decided yesterday that we would double our work. Of course, just as in previous elections we will be putting forward a manifesto that proposes answers to the whole range of European questions, issues such as the environment, the internal market, security, enlargement of the EU and so on. But in addition, and perhaps even more importantly, we will be working on an alternative to the Treaty of Lisbon. We are going to construct a sort of mini-treaty in which we will let it be known how we would like to see Europe develop and in which will be stated what Europe can do, and above all what it should not be able to do. We are going, whatever else, to proceed from a basis of an EU with strong member states rather than member states who give away their power and their veto rights to the undemocratic institutions of Brussels. This mini-treaty will not, needless to say, be a book-length work with hundreds of articles, in the style of the European Constitution of the Lisbon Treaty. In contrast to these treaties it will also be intelligible to anyone who can read.

If things pan out as we foresee, then 4th June 2009 will be not so much an election day as the day of the referendum denied to the voters of the Netherlands. There will, as in a referendum, be only two choices on offer: to vote for the Europe of the supporters of the Constitution and of Lisbon, or to vote for the Europe of our mini-treaty? With such stakes, 4th June next year could be an historic day, one surpassing even the SP's success of 2006.

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