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Last Updated: Thursday, 9 March 2006, 11:41 GMT
Viewpoints: Europe's way forward
The EU has begun debating what to do in response to the rejection of the draft European constitution by French and Dutch voters in referendums last year.

Salzburg
The Salzburg meeting aimed to intensify debate on the EU's future
The No votes appeared to show that Europe's political elite was out of step with its citizens, and the EU decided to pause for reflection as it digested the lessons and decided what to do next.

Pro-EU politicians, artists and intellectuals gathered on Friday and Saturday to discuss the problems in Salzburg, at the invitation of the Austrian government, the current holder of the EU presidency.

The BBC News website asked some of them two questions:

  • What does the EU need to do to gain citizens' confidence?
  • What should be done with the constitution?

    Vaira Vike-Freiberga, President of Latvia

    Josep Borrell, President of the European Parliament

    Margot Wallstrom, Vice-President of the European Commission

    Dora Bakoyannis, Mayor of Athens

    Ursula Plassnik, Austrian Foreign Minister

    Mark Leonard, Centre for European Reform

    Dominique Moisi, French Institute for International Relations

    Bronislaw Geremek, MEP and former Polish foreign minister

    VAIRA VIKE-FREIBERGA, LATVIAN PRESIDENT

    Vaira Vike-Freiberga
    Confidence - What is usually discussed in the media is the nitty gritty of practical everyday decisions, how tall cages for chickens should be, or how many cucumbers you can sell. It's not a sexy enterprise and people don't get excited by it. I think we need to put more emphasis on education, science, the arts, history. There is an awful lot more to Europe than the bureaucratic side, but we are not always aware of it.

    Constitution - There are three options: to revive the same document that France and the Netherlands rejected; to cherry-pick the best parts of it; or to keep plodding along without a constitution. Perhaps we don't need an over-arching constitution - Britain has always managed without one - but we do need better and more streamlined ways of running the EU. We need to make government of the Europe of 25 more effective than the government of the Europe of 15.

    URSULA PLASSNIK, AUSTRIAN FOREIGN MINISTER

    Ursula Plassnik
    Confidence - Let's face our fears but avoid self-indulgence or paralysis. Face the future and focus on what we want to achieve: to secure and develop the European way of life and to be a trusted partner in the world. The question is not so much about European procedures but whether the Union is capable of delivering. The European citizen wants the European Union to deliver concrete answers to his questions - on jobs, growth and security. The details of the "European clockwork" are for him about as accessible as are for me the mechanics of a car. What matters is that it works and that it is seen to work.

    Constitution - Thirteen member states have approved the treaty, two of them by a public vote. In two member states the text was rejected in referendums. There are no instant or ready-made answers to the constitutional problem. We will work towards a solution that respects all 25 EU member states. At the end of our presidency I would wish to see a common choreography that will enable us to jointly move ahead. Let us address the future of the union together!

    JOSEP BORRELL, PRESIDENT OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT

    Josep Borrell
    Confidence - I reject the idea that citizens have completely lost trust in Europe, though of course some doubts were expressed in the French and Dutch referendums. The only thing to do is to deliver more and better European policies that respond to people's needs: policies which create social cohesion in Europe, and create more jobs. We can also make European institutions more democratic, and must find a new way of financing the Union - we cannot go on arguing about net balances.

    Constitution - Nobody knows what to do about the constitution. There is no clear answer. We have embarked on a period of reflection and it is going to last for more than a year. The European Parliament has left every possibility open. Of course, it is difficult to believe that the original text can come into force after the No votes in France and the Netherlands. But how do you write a new text? Do you convene a new convention?

    MARK LEONARD, CENTRE FOR EUROPEAN REFORM, LONDON

    Mark Leonard
    Confidence - A lot of the sense of crisis is self-generated. As soon as European leaders start dealing with pressing problems in a visible way, like building up the foreign policy machinery, dealing with migration and terrorism and modernising their economies and welfare states, then citizens will be less sceptical. From the citizens' perspective European leaders only seem interested in talking about institutions, rather than resolving problems which need Europe-wide solutions.

    Constitution - It's a paradox, but the more European leaders talk about the constitution and about ratifying it, the longer it will be before they can start changing EU structures. The constitution had some useful things in it, but if you want these things you need to admit that the treaty is dead. Presented with an abstract constitution, people will vote No, but they might vote Yes on whether to give (EU foreign affairs chief) Javier Solana the means to do his job properly.

    MARGOT WALLSTROM, EUROPEAN COMMISSION VICE-PRESIDENT

    Margot Wallstrom
    Confidence - There are three things we need to do to reconnect with citizens: to put ears on the EU - to listen more and become more democratic; to communicate better what we are doing; and to go local - to be present where most people live their daily lives. We will have to work through national parliaments and through civil society. We have to announce consultation on important issues so that people know they can have a say.

    Constitution - Before breathing new life into the constitution we need to debate what we want the EU to do, its role in the world and its borders. Only when we have discussed these things, and the added value of Europe today, can we decide what institutions we need. In June I expect member states to say they need more time. I personally think ratification could coincide with the 2009 parliamentary elections. Others hope it could be done earlier.

    DOMINIQUE MOISI, FRENCH INSTITUTE FOR INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

    Dominique Moisi
    Confidence - Europe needs to prove to its citizens that it makes a difference - that without the Union the daily life of citizens would be much more difficult. It needs to show that it can make Europe safer vis a vis terrorism, vis-a-vis pandemics, vis-a-vis the possibility of an energy boycott and so on. Europe should be seen as a facilitator to help release the energy of its citizens in the world of globalisation.

    Constitution - For the moment we should probably do nothing with the constitution, just leave it where it is, like a kind of sleeping beauty. European leaders have to regain the confidence of their citizens before they return to the issue of the institutions. Institutions are not the problem right now. To some extent, lack of self-confidence has become the most important problem. If we try to return to the constitution too early we will fail again.

    DORA BAKOYANNIS, MAYOR OF ATHENS

    Dora Bakoyannis
    Confidence - Regaining citizens' trust should be our main goal in 2006. We need to explain what we are doing better and stop using European jargon. Secondly, we need to fight the democratic deficit, which means getting citizens much more involved. If members of the European Parliament were directly elected - without proportional representation - they would be closer to citizens, and European elections would no longer be a referendum on national government.

    Constitution - The constitution has been rejected, but it would have been an important step forward. We need to preserve the essence of it. The changes that are made should be aimed at making it smaller, simpler and better and we have to find a better way of communicating the purpose of it.

    BRONISLAW GEREMEK MEP, FORMER POLISH FOREIGN MINISTER

    Bronislaw Geremek
    Confidence - It is important for us to prove that it is better to face the challenges confronting us in a European framework rather than a national one. These challenges pose a threat to our present peace, security and prosperity and I think that only the EU can handle them. We do not need to accept a unipolar world, and I would rather have Europe as the other pole of the world system than an Asian giant.

    Constitution - My sense is that if we have a big debate on the future of Europe in 2006, France and the Netherlands could be ready to hold new referendums soon afterwards. Jacques Chirac will be retiring from politics in 2007 and if France takes a decision to vote again, I hope the Netherlands will follow. The text of the constitution could be altered a little, and shortened, without those countries which have already ratified it having to start again.

    Please use the form below to have your say on the views expressed by the experts:


    Europe must become more financially competitive if it wants to maintain its position of influence and wealth in the world. Like it or not, this requires Europe to structurally evolve towards a more American model, greater unity on both a political and economic level (there seem to be many people here that kid themselves and believe that these are two wholly autonomous things).
    Tim O'Connor, Santa Barbara, CA USA

    That the French and the Dutch voted against the EU constitution has little to do with the constitution. Almost very time there is a referendum on any EU matter, the people vote no. The point is, the people are not given enough chances to vote on EU matters. As for the constitution, how can anybody believe that the constitution make the EU a super-state? Even the Todmorden WI has one, but isn't one.
    Jon Braithwaite, Munich

    I think Uk should withdraw from the EU and permit the other Member states to path the way towards an European federation.
    Stefano Braghiroli, Bologna, Italy (EU)

    As a Polish Canadian living in the U.S. (and waiting for American citizenship), I am delighted to see Poland joining the European Union and to observe the whole continent from which our culture emerged being united into one. However, I believe that with strong national, linguistic, and cultural differences, it is not possible to create a new pan-European nation-state. It is possible, instead, to create a multi-cultural union of states which preserve (and have a right to protect) their own cultural heritage, language and customs. The European Union's Constitution should be visionary, brief, and focused on unchangeble essentials. The accompanying Treaty would specify the details and be ratified by national parliaments. At present, the Union's overreaching law-making goes too far into details, such as forbidding certain types of cheese or local food products. This is insanity! We have our own insanities in California, of course. I hope that European citizens and officials will be able to work out their differences and truly unite the continent in things that matter (economy, security), while leaving intact its wonderful range of vibrant cultures and local customs. We would not want to see Polish or Hungarian languages wiped out and replaced by one global language (English?).
    Maja Trochimczyk, Los Angeles, USA

    Dear european countryfellows, Let us think what rejected the voters in Holland and France... European Constitution in form of those times was a step too far... Like - for instance - papal vision of the middle ages world - too beauraucratic. I. e. too detailed and rising a fear of lack freedom of choice in future. In some sense the rejection had positive influence on common people thinking because it forced to stop and wait for a spirite of community to appear... And it appears - finally! But don't make this mistake again. The Constitution must be shorter and not too detailed... In that moment... Marek Sudnik
    Marek Sudnik-Hrynkiewicz, Krakow, Poland

    I believe that the EU has lost its ideological tracks. It stared out as an attempt to prevent future large scale conflicts based on European national interests. The means to achieve stability were to make trade interests pan European. The idea being that no nation would like to damage its own economy by provoking a conflict with its neighbour. Many also saw the good fringe benefits it could bring in the forms of increased business and strengthened economical power. I like this EU, peace and stability and mutual interest. I suppose most people do. What worries me is that the EU I see today has changes and I am suppose to like it because I am told it is good for the economy and EU¿s strength in the world economy. To me the focus has shifted from the ends to the means and this worries me. It may be the right way forward but so far the politicians have not been able to sell this change to the EU voters. It is like when I want to buy that second-hand Mercedes, I really want it and it seems to be a good deal but the smooth talking sales man is just a little too sleek to trusted. I only get to hear about the good parts, never the drawbacks that obviously are there. I am looking forward to the day when a politician will stand up and tell me here/his vision of the future EU with all its advantages and disadvantages and why the sacrifices that will have to be made are worth making.
    Fredrik, Lisse, Netherlands

    People should be proud to be a citizen of the EU. By co-operating and pooling national interet, Europe was able to end hundreds of years of war and conflict bringing in an era of stability and prosperity never before seen. The EU is a positive example to the world of how a ruined continent was able to rebuild in the aftermath of total war and laid the foundation for lasting peace not by shrinking into national shells but by working together.
    Alex Clabburn, Stirling, Scotland

    Personally, I believe that there should be a seperate EU constitution, and "EU manual". One will be a simple idealistic document. The other the bunch of sidelaws, and previous treaties the EU works with. The EU constitution, no offense, should be able to fit into 2 A4 pages (at most!). It should be clear, obvious things, a voice against could only come from a Taliban. Freedom. Justic. Logic. Secularism. Liberalism. Things supposently European in this corner of the world. If they vote no. They deserve it. A bill of rights. You are born free. You can own property. You can sell property. You can travel from the one border of the EU to the other. You are entitled to self defense. You are entitled to free speech and thought. You are entitled to a rightful legal system. There. Done. This is how a constitution should be about. As for the operation manual. And that each MEP has 2.3 votes and a cat or something. This can be passed through the council as they passed the data retention law. (I don't remember *that* being up to national refferendums) it's simple operational stuff after all. They don't like it? Then VOTE through the Europarliament ladies, VOTE, that's why this organ with the ability to disband the council exists.
    George Ioannidis, Ioannina, Greece

    The public have got wise to the grandoise and typically irrelevant political restructuring of EU politicans. Hence the "no" vote. Do something more practical and relevant instead of creating thousands of administrative burdens which hamper economic efficiency. Clean up the massive and scandalous corruption. The project is doomed to failure as politican only know how to burdwen us with yet more regulation and taxes in their rush to create a utopian society by administrative dictat. The rest of the world is passing us by and we will become begars like those in the Eastern Communist bloc whose politican too thought they know what is best for us.
    Tomislav Pancic, Bristol, England

    Can't we just re-write it? Change the whole idea of the constitution from a MASSIVE bureaucratic document which gives more power to the EC (which is NOT elected by the people) and takes it away from the nation states, towards a constitution which declares the principles of the EU, has a Wow factor (sorry guys it needs it) and reforms the ragingly corrupt system in brussels. The EP should have more power, the people should have more power, and the politicians should ALL be elected. The EC is a dictatorship at the moment of sorts. Im a Pro European but please, the constitution was a totally misguided attempt to get the nations to give brussels more power and themselves as citizens less. Even if i could feel that i had some say over what happened in brussels then i would be happier. We need a European govt which is elected by the people and run for the people (i hate to sound clichéd but its true)
    Mark, Portsmouth, UK

    The elites of europe are extremely out of touch with the desires and needs of the average person, and should focus on educating themselves on what their populace wants rather then attempting to "educate" their population on what they think is best. The Vanguard theory of leadership in Europe has yielded The French Revolution, The Russian Revolution and a raft of other disasters. True unity will only come about in Europe when the leaders accept there will never be a "United States of Europe" and most importantly, when the populations of the individual nations choose freely to cooperate with each other.
    Bran Mahoney, Tallahassee, Florida

    A constitution is the first step in the true unification of Europe. It is a mistake for the ratification of a such a constitution to be put in the hands of the population. How on earth are they qualified to judge whether it is good for them or not? What is the purpose of their elected representatives if they cannot decide for themselves? The masses are the puppets of the media, controlled by an oligarchy of malicious spin-doctors that feasts on disunity and imagined controversy.
    Amin Golmohamad, london, UK

    As an unelected bureaucrat, I would be curious to know how many civil servants in any other country, in the world, actually is elected. Secondly, I am equally curious to see the ratio of self-serving politicians to selfless politicians in the world, and see how those who decide EU law, namely Members of the European Parliament and the elected officials of national governemnts fare against them.
    Unelected EU bureaucrat, Brussels, Belgium

    The constitution was the result of negotiated agreements by vested interests and lobbies. It showed little or no inspiration, except to give-away acquired social rights, and forgot to say what the EU should become. One solution that has been left out by both Government Ministers and your experts, is to START AGAIN, and this time produce a clear and straightforward text.
    Shaun Smyth, Divonne, france

    We need to carry on with things, better to be done European, such as Foreign-, Defence-, Monetary-,Taxation-, etc. We should stop, to over- regulate businesses. We need to emphasise the (common) European part in history and culture. And we urgently need to democatize the European institutions, f. e. to give the parlament real legislation power. And finally cut all subsidies and put the money into science and research.
    Wolfhart Weber, Karlsruhe, Germany

    European Union is an Union of hearts and minds as a starting point.There is no healthy balance between economical and ideological power and that leads to extermes ,using as an example the comments posted by the BBC readers.
    IRosto, Romania

    Austria, Good Luck with re-drafting the Constitution. BE BRIEF.
    Michael Feeny, London, England

    As a committed democrat and european, I see one way forward if the EU is to grow, prosper and make its influence felt on the world stage and that is through integration, which can only be done by replacing the current acquis communitaire and the treaties, which everyone agreees are inefficient and bulky with something more streamlined in the form of a constitution. This can only be done by returning to style of the EU's origins in the 1957 Treaty of Rome. I'd propose having 2 treaties on the following: - The EU's identity and aims and borders - Institutional reforms and powers.
    Nigel Mehegan, Swansea, UK

    To our leaders I say: leave aside the drafts, redrafts and re-writes of directives, proposals and treaties; focus on vision. The body of a text always comes more easily when the spirit is there to animate the author. The same is true of Europe.
    Donnacha MacAodhagain, Dublin, Ireland

    Reviving the constitution should not be considered a pressing matter, what should come first is the integration of the Balkans. I deeply believe that if the EU does not own up to its promises of membership and hurry to apply some kind of incentive plans, that the rapidly developing Balkans will loose hope and begin to look inwards instead of outwards towards Europe. Let the constitution die - there are other important matters that should be at the fore of the European agenda.
    Tomislav Ivancic, Rijeka, Croatia

    The US Constitution is not a dozen or so pages long; it is so vague and poorly designed that thousands of pages of court decisions describe the "actual" meaning of the vague principles that are implied by such a compact document. This gradual elaboration is a constantly politicised process, leaving the very nature of the US republic a matter for contention. How can real dialogue occur between groups of differing political views when they not only disagree on what government _ought_ do, but in fact what it currently _can_ do. Regardless of the policy, legislation is at its best when it is clear and unambiguous. Brevity may seem laudable but meaningfully harms the very rule of law.
    Rahul Sinha, Washington DC, USA

    The Latvian President says that there are three policies which we can choose from regarding the European constitution. She conveniently omits to mention the policy which seems to be favoured in Brussels: to slip parts of this discredited document in through the back door. Lack of confidence is at the heart of Europe's problems, and it's significant to contrast the enthusiasm for the EU of those peoples still outside it with the disaffection of probably a majority of those within. In many respects it is a corrupt, discredited institution whose main function has been to interfere in the minutiae of people's lives. And please don't tell us how the EU has preserved peace in Europe, because that flies in the face of history! Few people, and even fewer governments, think European first and national interest second. This shows no sign of changing. Just give us the common market we signed up to, and scrap the rest. Bring power back nearer the people.
    Malcolm Maries, Dhahran, Saudi Arabia

    A United Staes of Europe is a dream... too many countries, too many cultures, too many languages, too much histroy... best to concentrate on economic unity for now otherwise, a weak euro might be the only thing common to Europeans. Europeans need to open their eyes to see how Asia is becoming an economic power house. Forget the dream and concentrate on strengthening the european economy to compete with China in the coming years. Europe, get your priorities right.
    Mervyn Sullivan, Darwin Australia

    I don't think the problem is the proposed constitution, although changes are needed. People feel frustrated by politics, and politics can't get a hold on public oppinion anymore. Whether they need it to get support, or when they need it to find out what to do. Europe is still growing, but real progress other than expending isn't made, because the only real issues in Bruxels are laws on technical issues, such as the percentage of water in certain types of meat. We are to blame, because we lack ideology, other than wanting to have more and paying less. The pubic has turned its back to politics and more dangerous; the social coherency is getting less. Maybe it's time the politicians organise a strike and march out of Bruxels.
    david, Riga, Latvia

    Ursula Plassnik is talking about facing with fears and realities,but Mrs.Plassnik tried too much to prevent Turkey to start the accession negotiations.And now as a member of European Council, Austria calls for a emergency break for Turkey.What is more,Austria is trying to postpone negotiations.This shows us that the Austrian presidency is just trying to run away from the problems of Europe.In my opinion,enlargement to Turkey is inevitable.
    Cagatay iris, Izmir,Turkey

    How can anyone seriously expect us to vote for a constitution made by a body riddled with corruption, excess, failure and incompetence. A body that cannot get its accounts signed off ! a body that still thinks the CAP is a good thing, a body ran by unelected, unaccountable politicians, most of who seemed to be failures in national politics !!! A body that appears to be totally toothless in trade outside the EU, and a body that deals with muderous dictators such as Mugabe ?? Tell me...I wouldn't !!!
    theron , watford

    Maybe in my lifetime, I will see a united Europe. For all of its warts and imperfections, I adore it - it is MY nation.
    John Cassidy, Zurich - not yet EU

    Its not about the constitution or confidence its all about why do we need a European government which costs us so much money, and makes Europe wide laws, which we do not need, rushes into enlargement far to quickly, and most importantly destroys jobs, jobs now done in India or China! The common market was fine. Why change something that worked well. The EU is some big socialist experiment that the more informed of us know will end in tears.
    Mike Pearce, Norwich England

    As a committed European let me say that it undermines the credibility of politicians in this debate to claim that European prosperity and peace are a consequence of the EU, this is patently not the case. Prosperity has derived from the effort and work of the European peoples together with US and European Companies and more latterly Japanese Company Investments. Peace was secured by the security umbrella provided by NATO in response to and galvanised by the nuclear threat posed by the USSR. The primary function of the EU since its inception was to create a Europe wide home market that would be large enough to enable European firms to invest, grow and effectively compete with the US Multinationals that looked in the 50's and 60's as if they would dominate and pick off the smaller European companies in World Trade. To achieve this home market required a number of key alignments between European countries. a) The elimination of trade barriers between countries b) The free movement of people between countries. b) The establishment of common standards in trade and goods d) The elimination of competitive currency devaluations between countries e) either the elimination of national industry subsidies or a set of standard subsidies ( agriculture) for those industries that needed to be strategically protected in world markets and of course a common set of tax regulations to ensure that companies would be treated equally in all the countries of Europe. Regrettably these goals have still not been achieved and despite the view often expressed that, what we signed up to when we joined was a common market not a European Super state the fact is that the functions required to achieve the original economic goals of the EU can not be achieved without the loss of sovereignty of the individual nation states. The fact that politicians continually deny this fact aided and abetted by the hysterical media is what has held up progress and as a result Europe has declined in influence, economic power and prosperity when compared to the US. We need to accept that if this decline is not to continue that the politicians need to refocus on the need to put on hold some of its members political ambitions and focus on increasing the EU's competitiveness and investment in research.
    terence Carlin, suffolk

    The constitutional treaty text created by Giscard D¿Estaing served only to entrench the powers of member state institutions at the expense of the ordinary citizens. Europeans will only be inspired by a much more concise document, restricted to basic principles, defining the relationship between citizen and state, in terms of rights and obligations. Yes, of course we are ultimately (50 years hence) establishing the foundations of a Nation called the European Union. If such a revised text ever emerges it must be put to the European electorate en-masse, not piecemeal to artificially constructed elements of the whole, i.e. Member States. Herein lies the central issue bedevilling European construction. How can a European Demos possibly evolve when mature Nation State actors such as France, Great Britain and Germany continue to dominate the geo-political landscape? Europe is ultimately constructed from its citizens, not Member States.
    Peter Davidson, Alderley Edge, NW.England

    I have never been in favour of the EU and would have voted against the constitution if I'd had a chance. For anyone who is still in doubt about the ultimate aims of the Eurocrats and who would like to know how we've been conned into the present situation, I recommend the book "The Great Deception" by Christopher Booker and Richard North. It is an eye-opener even to a sceptic like me and has brought to light the original documents which show that the founders always intended that the ordinary people of Europe should be kept in the dark about their loss of democratic rights. Once you've read that you'll be hoping that the constitution is well and truly dead.
    Liz, Croydon, UK

    In all the quotes made by european officials not one has made any mention of the present corruption and fraud. Until the gravy train has been brought to a grinding halt who will place any credibility or trust in what they say or propose.
    ron reddey, weybridge UK

    Standing as an American looking in, I am astounded that Europe would ratify any constitution that includes the UK. The UK has proven with its alliance with the right-wing forces in the United States that functions as a mole pushing the right-wing anti-social, pro-war agenda on Europe. No pan-european constitution should be considered, and none be allowed to even exist until the UK is thrown out of the European Union, and forced to confront what it is, a 51st. state of it's former colony.
    John Morales, Texas

    A United Staes of Europe is a dream... too many countries, too many cultures, too many languages, too much histroy... best to concentrate on economic unity for now otherwise, a weak euro might be the only thing common to Europeans. Europeans need to open their eyes to see how Asia is becoming an economic power house. Forget the dream and concentrate on strengthening the european economy to compete with China in the coming years. Europe, get your priorities right.
    Mervyn Sullivan, Darwin Australia

    I am sure you did not mean to say that Belarusians and Ukrainians are not Europeans. Hey, the EU is not complete without us. Let's have Belarus, Turkey, Serbia, and Ukraine to join, and than we'll all decide together. Deal?
    Max Kanowski, Minsk, Belarus

    It amazes me that lack of sovereignty is not a bigger issue in france. i have no problem with economic cooperation and am definitely for european peace but where is my voice in the issues? the politicians are out of touch and i for one do not look forward to becoming the united states of europe.
    missey , london/uk

    Citizens need to be convinced that the politicians they have elected are really representing them adequately with clear visions of where Europe is heading. Right now everything seems to be suspended in mid-air with no sense of purpose like the blind leading the blind. That is why there is rejection of the European Constitution. A constitution has to be transparent. It is a brilliant idea but it needs competent statesmen and members of Parliament to rouse and educate the European public on its inherent virtues. Otherwise this laudable idea of the constitution will be relegated to a past dream. The European electorate needs to be convinced without further delay.
    Pancha Chandra, Brussels, Belgium

    They should look at the length of the ´Magna Carta´or the Constitution of the USA (I´m not suggesting we go along with the content) and learn that we do not want/need an immense tome, but a statement of rights and obligations that all countries can subscribe to. This would allow, above all, flexibility for individual countries, something totally at odds with Giscard D´Éstangs ridiculous attempt. And I absolutely agree that ratification without a popular vote are, by their undemocratic nature, must not count.
    Tony Webb, Gandia , Spain

    The idea of free movement within the EU is pretty much a joke, as anyone who has looked for work outside of the UK will know. So many official stumbling blocks are put in your path that at times, in desperation, you might almost think that it would be easier to arrive as an immigrant from outside the EU. The simple fact is that the EU only benefits international business - a far cry from the ideals originally put forward! Back in the pre-Europe 60s, there was a "Buy British" campaign in the UK, as well as all types of "protectionism" elsewhere in Europe. Although it is certainly too late to put back the clock, I'm beginning to wonder what was so bad with the "old days"....!!!
    Michael Landau, Milan, Italy

    I don't think that the public in the UK is at all misinformed; I think the public in the UK is the only one that can give themselves the luxury of saying NO to Europe, the way that Europe is going. Us in Portugal are completely involved with Europe simply because we don't have any other chance and even so, we are almost bankrupt. Forget about the political unions or any constitution - we are too different from each other to try to put us all in the same bag; concentrate more on the economic side. Europe is fighting over silly things when most economies are in a very poor state, technology is old and what we have the most, people, is running away for better opportunities elsewhere.
    Machado, lisboa, Portugal

    Most urgent for the EU is institutional reform, some aspects of which could be teased out from the Constitution text and enacted on a basis independent of EU citizens. This could help ease the problem of stifling bureaucracy, giving officials more time to travel Europe and meet the people whose activities are affected by EU legislation and helping to dispel their reputation as being faceless. Much Euromyth abounds because, while there are people to set the facts straight, they are not prominent characters in the media. It is easier with national politicians to work out whom you like or do not like for the purposes of voting, but European Commissioners rarely reach the public mind in the same way through the media.
    Sarah , Edinburgh

    One simple document on one piece of paper of your goals and mission statement. text it, mail it. Several languages, make it bright, colourful, modern. As well make it clear the amount of tax that is required from each citizen. With the young and the old if it is one simple number it sells. GST = 7%, now 6%. We all hate it but it is a number we understand and accept. Let the politician deal with the minutia. Keep it simple, keep it fresh, make it yours. jim
    Douglas Jim, Ottawa, Canada

    The EU should become more accountable to its citizens if it wants their confidence back. Its accounts are in a mess so how can the taxpayers of each nation be sure their money is being well spent. The constitution should be re-written as a much shorter and easy to understand document. It should then be put to a EU-wide referendum and only ratified if it receives greater than 51% backing across the whole EU. I think a good time for this will be during the next term of the EU parliament.
    Disgruntled Eurosceptic, England

    The problem with the proposed EU constitution was that it forgot that basic tenet of success - keep it simple. The American constitution has less than two dozen pages, not the several hundred pages of the EU constitution.
    George, Harpenden

    The biggest problem with the EU is that the 'bonding' is mainly restricted to trade agreements or economic gains. There is a dire need to boost socio-cultural unity for the people to start feeling like EU citizens.
    Aanchal Anand, London, UK

    One of the big problems is that the Council of Ministers encourages votes that show 'I am protecting my constituants' instead of voting for what would be best for the entire community. Take fishing as an obvious case in point - in reality pathetic political compromises are destroying the stock completely whereas intelligent & timely decisions would have started to have reversed the decline. The survival of an essential human food has been put at risk to preserve the income of a few fishermen. Does this make sense? This is the nub of the problem. First design and test institutions that work for the collective good without stifling local initiatives; then you have something that can be enshrined in a constitution, but a constitution subject to review for relevance every 25 years.
    colin, Belgium

    From the start the European Community was intent on persuading European nations to abandon their nationalisms. But it never thought of creating a European nationalism - a proud collective identity - to fill the resulting gap of common patriotic feeling. Its constructors never thought of this, let alone did it. This should have been done while the Community was still only the twelve, and then this proud collective European identity offered to the new adherents as something to share in. This not having been done, the European Union is now an emotionally listless mass of semi-denationalised nations, facing the ardent and effective nationalisms of America, Japan, China and the emerging new Russian nationalism. No wonder it is helpless on the world stage - much less effective than any one of the old European powers singly.
    Desmond Fennell, Rome

    When a Constitution is drafted that focuses on the liberty of the people rather than the hegemony of the institutions, it might get my vote. The real problem is that the political elite don't realise that we don't want a political elite - simply a mechanism for bringing forward ordinary people's views and for bounding what it is legitimate for one group (however large) to mandate on other groups.
    Martin Mays, High Wycombe, UK

    The arguments for Europe might be summed up by the question, "Are Europeans moving freely from one state to another to live / work / study, and are they doing so in increasing numbers?" If the answer is "yes", then people are voting with their feet in favour of a European system that allows them to do this
    John Bright, Welling Kent England

    It is sadly typical that the pro-european policians would go into conclave with their own kind to discuss this issue. If they really want to listen to European citizens, then they actually need to talk to the euro-sceptics to find out why so many Europeans do not want their federal super-state. It comes as no surprise that they are out of touch if they only listen to each other reinforcing thier own misconceptions.
    Patrick Hayden, Amsterdam

    No mean No, not yes, maybe, or later. The EU is an undemocratic technocracy which is doomed to break up in the same way as the USSR.
    N.J, Cambridge

    Nothing will ever be accepted until EU members get rid of unemployements. Citizens don't need another grandiose and useless project. They need work and revenues. They will reject everything until they have better conditions. Once you will have applied all the necessary fiscal/legal changes, (we all know them, if you don't know them, I suggest to choose another job). You will be able to work on your grandiose projects.
    Olivier Laurent, Brussels

    It may not be an ultimate answer and it may be one that is not expected and hoped for by many (pro as well as cons EU) but more democracy would certainly help legitimize the whole project (or its dismissal). It certainly would close mouths of all those that criticize it only for the sake of being against something. It is good that politicians start to realize that we, the people are the suvereign. After all these years during which which our rights were constantly deluted we may at least gain (a bit of) right to say. Power to the people!
    jacek wentland, weiden,germany

    I think EU nations need to build confidence among the voters that the EU is beneficial by emphasizing the many successes countries like Ireland, Spain and even the UK (1980's) had because of the EU. Too often that is hard when national governments blame Brussels as a scapegoat for local problems. The EU needs to be more transparent and less bureaucratic, so it's not opened to attacks. It can stay the way it is and be a lumbering giant, or it can reform and be more agile and flexible to tackle modern concerns like the globalization, global warming or security concerns. One thing is certain: business as usual cannot go on, and reform of some kind is needed.
    SV, NYC, USA

    I find it absolutely fascinating how ephemeral public opinion is when it comes to ratifying, in a democratic way, the will of the people. The people have spoken in Europe and do not wish to have a Constitution. Let the idea rest. Compare this attitude with how receptive Europeans have been in the wake of the Palestinian election regarding Hamas. Why is one scenario pushed as the will of the people and should be accepted (Hamas vis-a-vis the West), while the European Constitution issue will be put forth over and over until it is finally and reluctantly implemented? Europeans cannot have a selective sense of democratic destiny.
    D Holloway, London UK

    It's no good blaming the EU for the increasingly competitive nature of world economics. The EU needs to better balance its protectionist instincts against the interests of the poorer countries. Bickering about the details of the EU's regulatory environment and getting distracted by the media's trivialisation of it, serves only to make European countries look more out of touch and less concerned to play their proper role in this globalised society.
    Antony, Oxford, UK

    The comments of MEP Bronislaw Geremek eptomise what is so wrong with the European Union and why it will never gain democratic acceptance. His view that the two countries who voted no to the constitution must be asked to vote again until they get it right , but those who voted yes are not to be given the opportunity if a new version is put forward displays the usual Euro contempt for the peoples of Europe and their democratic rights.
    David, UK

    As soon as anyone can tell me of one good thing that has improved the lives of all European people, which couldn't have happened without the EU, then I guarantee I'll vote in favour of the constitution.
    Guy Gibson, Cambridge UK

    The enlargement and further enlargement of the European Union is 'frightening' to the uninformed. The absence of a clear 'road map' is the cause of the crisis and I myself don't believe in the long-term sustainability of an enlarged union and would rather start with the building of the strongest ties with more countries.
    Artur de Freitas, Johannesburg, South Africa

    No-one ever asked the people of the EU if they wanted to live in an ever-exopanding superstate. We were asked if we wanted to be in an 'Economic' (not political) Community. If the EU wants to connect with its citizens there should be more transparency about its finances(and its appalling corruption) and a promise that the citizens will be asked to vote on any further enlargement via an EU-wide referendum. Perhaps when the current citizens have learned to trust the politicians there could be a general statement of principles (or constitution) that we could vote on, but without mutual trust and respect it will be a waste of time.
    Anthony, liverpool

    Mrs Wallstrom, talks about the need to be more democratic, a rich comment from someone who heads part of the the largest, least accountable and most distrusted unelected organisation in Europe - the EU Commission. I have been involved personally over the last two years in the process of trying to make workable one of the many thousands of laws generated by the Commission and then rubber stamped by parliament. The atmosphere was always the same we (the Commmision) want this you (the public) say all you want but we will get what we want anyway. EU democracy in action! Until they focus on public needs (ie ask us instead of telling us)and put emphasis on competivity instead of bureacracy the EU will eventually and certainly implode but sadly take the second most important economy in the world with it.
    Alan Henderson, Thun, Switzerland

    I can agree the EU has helped keep peace in Europe & that a framework constitution is needed for so many countries to work together. This constitution needs to be short, simple & explain clear limits to the EU's power. The EU tried to bundle in a mandate for more powers over national governments, which was rejected. If the EU are ready for a way forward they must cut out the bureaucracy & hidden agendas, and keep the rules simple.
    Anna, Liverpool, England

    It seems to me that nobody has paid attention to the defeat of the constitution. All the politicians and academics are doing is discussing what the best way is to trick the citizen into ratifying a text that they have already rejected. People rejected the constitution because they saw it as robbing them of their national sovereignty. listen and learn as to what that means!
    Gavin Renwick, Reading, UK

    In my view, the EU is currently at the crossroads in terms of what form of interaction among themselves member states choose. Does the public of member states want an organization where power is imposed on member states from the top or member states themselves get together voluntarily to solve their problems? Which way of interaction should dominate? Until this issue is not discussed broadly there is no way forward. As to the proposed constitution, currently it is dead in the water and I can't imagine it to be voted through by the voters who once already have rejected it. Probably the text as it stands now needs to dropped once and for all.
    Darius Smolskas, Vilnius, Lithuania

    We should have (and still should) begin the noble endeavour of a European Constitution with a Preamble, to unite and inspire; to express fundamental organizing principles on which we can all more or less agree. Mechanistism can come later. (1) Keep it honest. Admit that the Constitution unequivocally enshrines the supremacy of European law. (2) Keep it short. It should consist of a truly poetic paragraph (We Europeans, delighting in our diversity ...) and brief statements of fundamental principle, which may be elaborated elsewhere. (3) Keep it inspiring. See (2) and don't treat it as a chance to nail down procedures or slip in backdoor legal compulsion (personality). (3) Keep it democratic. Such a profound change is hopelessly invalid, democratically, unless all countries allow direct referenda. We know political elites will vote for it. We need the true endorsement of the peoples of Europe. (4) Keep it alive. The one procedural matter that should be dealt with in the preamble is how the constitution may be altered (eg, at referenda, by two thirds majority of both states and people). The Preamble itself should require full acceptance at referenda by all states. (5) Keep it engaging. Have fun drawing up the Preamble. It should involve public competitions, great prizes, for best - and worst - efforts.
    Marc Nulsen, London, UK

    It was a mistake to call the constitution a 'constitution'. It is not. It is a treaty between sovereign countries like the Maastricht and Nice treaties and many others before that. There was no need to hold a referendum. Had it been a constitution, e.g. about the limits of government power and fundamental human rights etc., it would have been accepted.
    Alois Bock, Chandlers Ford

    For as long as self-serving politicians and unelected bureaucrats continue to attempt to force their will on the peoples of Europe through opaque constitutions and sly promises, a closer Europe will never happen. They are untrusted and unloved. Always ready to serve their self-interests and "legislate" on petty detail rather than addressing the many economic and social problems that much of Europe faces. They are happier developing their own job-creation quangos and personal crusades than they are in developing a working Europe. Much has been said by the Salzburg guests on "trust" and "honesty" but the blind Brussels machine would rather ignore the fundementals as they are inconvenient, lower profile, hard to address and not in their own interests.
    Chris P, Oxford, UK

    As one would have preferred the EU to have been strangled at birth, I was delighted to read the platitudes from the pro-EU delegates. In particular Mr Borrel who believes the EU should "deliver more and better European policies that respond to people's needs" (whatever that means!), or Ms Wallstrom who seems to believe that the EU is going in the right direction but needs to communicate better. With any luck, in twenty years time, the EU will be as paralysed as it is now
    Bill Beesley, Liverpool

    Give me that soapbox! Mrs Wallstrom is right: the EU needs to listen (and be seen to listen) and focus on the real world. The Constitution should be limited to a simple statement of values and principles, with a clear explanation of where responsibilities lie at European, national and regional level. 10 pages max should do it. All the rest of the stuff - voting weights, number of commissioners, MEPS, subsidiarity & proportionality protocols, opt-outs and the role of Mr Solana, etc - can go in a Treaty. It should then be up to national parliaments to approve or reject this. If the EU wants to be popular it should concentrate on helping to deliver the things that matter to people: ie creating jobs, a decent quality of life and a cleaner environment.
    Dennis Abbott, Brussels

    Why oh why do the European ministers continue to push for ratification of the constitution [Margot Wallstrom, ratification by 2009!]. The UK signed up to a common market of independent countries. The peoples of the UK and I suspect, from many conversations with other nationals, most EU states, are vehemently opposed to any political integration. It has to stop. Our future must not be in the hands of politicians, artists?? and itellectuals.
    Tony, Coventry UK

    The uniqueness of Europe is defined largely by the uniqueness of its individual states, and that is something that needs to be preserved less we all become an amorphous, homogenised society. This necessarily means that voting power cannot be reduced to something as simplistic as population numbers, or GDP as this would mean that small and/or financially weaker countries lose power and most probably, interest in the European project. Their identity cannot be determined on such simple grounds, all countries thus need to be regarded equally!
    john, bicester, UK

    The current EU totally fails to capture the imagination of it's citizens. Fishing quotas, regulations and spats between members do not inspire loyalty from the masses. I am British and am therefore technically 'European', yet I do not feel European in the slightest (funnily enough anti-Americanism and a Franco-German motor do not appeal to me). The EU leaders should think about how they can make citizenship of the EU relevant to its citizens and not just a mere technicality. Not in terms of a European national anthem or other such emotional nonsense, but real achievements or qualities which would cause us to say 'aren't we glad that we are members of the EU?'. Then the emotional attachment to the EU would follow.
    Nick, Southampton, UK

    Well, one positive and very concrete way in which the EU could increase the confidence of its citizens is by getting its accounts into a shape where the auditors can actually sign them off. Once the EU is running on something other than hot air and optimism, then it might be time to think about grand visions and constititutions.
    Paul Allen, Leiden, Netherlands

    The constitutional document should be about over-arching ideas, aspirations and values not about the detail that will change over time...
    Graham, Nantes, France

    We were asked to vote on whether to stay in a "Common Market" after we were unceremoniously taken in to Europe by Edward Heath but here in Scotland the trading partnership has seen our manufacturing industry slowly decline until the EC is seen by many as a negative effect on our country. Scotland has been subserviant to England for 300 years and is now ruled by Brussels. Recently revealed papers suggest we could have been self-sufficient in the 1970s if only England had let us have independence. That is how we should go now but "Independence in Europe" is not an option. The European Free Trade Association was an excellent club and that is the way forward even at this late date.
    Kenneth Gunn, Selkirk, Scotland

    Two major problems seem to trouble the EU: * Lack of transparency. If the EU would show how it was spending people's money, people would be more willing to accept it. But that would of course bring ALL the different countries into trouble. Just think of the ridiculous amount money the French get for farming, but all other countries have similar things. * The local politicians blaming their own incompetence on the EU. If anything goes wrong, it will always be the fault of someone else, and the EU is their scapegoat. The echo's of this can be read every day in every newspaper. No wonder people dislike the EU when exposed to such continuous negative propaganda.
    Jimmy, Leuven, Belgium

    Boris Johnson is right, we need a Wow factor. The Constituion needs to be inspiring. Let a writer or a poet write it. Run a competetion to pick the most inspirational written constitional
    A. de Wolf, Lancaster, England

    The answer is simple.... Listen to the British people and leave the EU. There are still a majority of British people who are British and will never be european! brussels in a government looking for a country.
    Mr B, Grimsby

    The solution of all the pro-Europeans questioned to rejection is without exception to provide yet more European initiatives. Haven't they ever heard the phrase "less is more"?
    Alastair, London, UK

    Most people would agree that some things are better dealt with at the supranational level, terrorism, migration for example. I think a clear list of policy areas and mechanisms for adding and removing policy areas from the list would reignite the EU and regain trust. The EU public need to see the value of the EU and that is lacking at present.
    derek smith, leeds

    Margot Wallstrom made a telling admission: that the political "great and good" of the EEC are disconnected from their subjects and that the EEC is undemocratic - things I have been saying for years. The people of my country were conned into voting to join the EEC by self-serving politicians who wanted to leave their names in the history books. I have zero confidence in the EEC, it's politicians, bureaucrats or any of it's works and I wish we had never joined. Britain should leave the EEC immediately, but this is something that Leader Blair will never allow as he wants to be President of the United States of Europe!
    Paul, Milton Keynes, England

    It's time to start asking ordinary people if they want a Constitution and, if they do, what they want to see in it. A Consitution does not have to come in a single take-it-or-leave it package. It can be built up over the years starting with the things that few will contest e.g. the right not to be tortured or the right not to be detained arbitrarily or indefinitely. Equally It's time to start really asking the ordinary people to say what things they want to see the EU deal with. al with. Let the people set the agenda. But since few people would actually know how to achieve the improvements this level of detail should be left to experts to propose and then governments to accept, modify or reject.
    Ray, Weymouth, UK

    No constitution which is more than two pages long will ever be accepted by public referendum - and I fail to see why a longer constitution is necessary. A constitution should be about the limits of government and the rights of the state and the individual; there is nothing in this which needs to be very long, as the overwhelmingly successful US constitution shows!
    Paul Cooper, Cambridge, UK

    So Mr Geremek thinks Europe should provide a counterbalance to the USA rather than somewhere in asia? Now I know European politicians live in a fantasy world! There isn't just one Asian counterbalance, there are at least two, China and Japan, with a third India comming up fast. Unless Europe radically changes its internal and financial protectionist policies e,g. CAP , stops burgeoning public debt eg the Italian state pension system, French German and British deficit budgeting and starts investing in R&D to make Europe competitive there is no chance of Europe keeping its current share of world prosperity let alone enhancing it. Its not a constitution we need its a fundamental rethink about reducing bureaucracy to make Europe competitive.
    John Galpin, Cookham

    Fact: every large organisation or institution needs a framework with rules to avoid becoming an amorphous mass. This is as true for the EU as for any country, region, town, tribe or family. The main sources of the EU problem seem to be a) Conflict between the desire to attain cohesion and the self interest (including powerful internal lobby groups, including mega companies, unions and self-interested media sources)of the participating members b) Lack of DIRECT information flow from the EU source to each and every individual within each EU country (or individual awareness of such flow which amounts to the same). Information from the EU itself is currently subject to filtration, blockage, diversion, distortion by self-interest groups (member countries' governments, political groupings, powerful commercial and media interests). The big question: is this pure utopianism or a realistic way forward?
    Roger Oliver (expat British), Le Soler, France

    It seems from many of the comments above that Euro Politicians are increasingly out of touch with the beliefs of the people who make up their electorate. Throughout Europe a majority of the populace do not want an increasingly expensive, corrupt, unaccountable and unelected bureaucracy running our daily lives. If the EU became more of a Free Trade Association and less dicatatorial, then it would have greater active support from the people.
    Donald Farquharson, Malmesbury, Wiltshire

    I'm with Boris Johnson ('Boris Johnson and the Dream of Rome', BBC2 last night): the European project needs a 'wow factor'. A common aim that captures the imagination and is easily expressed. Without it we're reduced to talking about abstract constitutions, treaties and the shape of bananas. We need something to believe in !
    Karl, UK

    Here only Moisi is right: let's just leave the Constitution for the moment. Europe lacks responsible leadership and political determination to reform its economies and generate growth. You just gain the impression that leaders are happy talking about the Constitution because it's easier than talking about anything else.
    Jon Worth, London, UK

    The US Constitution is a couple of pages - the EU constitution was way over 100. Until a document is produced with clarity, in a minimal size, voters will quite rightly reject it. I'm a fervent European and I would have voted no!
    Steve Lynas, Dubai UAE

    Putting expansion before constitutional reform was the biggest cart before the horse in the history of the world. Give us a 4 page document we can read and understand which takes powers away from the beuraucrats and the council of ministers and gives them to the European parliament. Then, maybe, we will vote "yes".
    Jon, Amsterdam, Netherlands

    I don't understand why the Mayor of Athens thinks that going back to first-past-the-post elections would reduce the democratic deficit in the European Parliament. We used to elect MEPs this way and it produced a much less representative assembly than we have at present. There are a few good points in the constitution, like the Council of Ministers meeting and making their decisions in public, but these could be implemented without any need for a further vote. The EU should be concentrating on issues that really matter like reforming the Common Agricultural Policy and taking measures to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, for example by introducing a europe-wide tax on aviation fuel.
    Laurence Cox, Stanmore, England

    I notice only pro-EU people were invited. That's neither bright nor democratic. How are they going to explain the no votes?
    Michael Grazebrook, London UK

    The EU political elite are concerned that the rejection of the proposed consitution indicates that they are possibly out of touch with the views of the public at large throughout Europe. Their answer? To gather together those same members of the European political elite to consider the matter. Is it only me or does anyone else see in this response the very problem underpinning the current crisis in the EU?!!
    Mark Catterall, Bristol UK

    The Constitutional Treaty has now been ratified by a majority of Member States. The 25 national governments themselves did not declare it dead. Instead, they extended the period of ratification and opened a 'period of reflection'. In that period of reflection we must listen carefully to those who said 'no', but we must also listen to the majority who have said 'yes' and find a way forward that can ultimately bring the two together. What we have is not a mass revolt, but a divergence of views. The European Parliament concluded that the period of reflection must be extended at least until 2007 to enable a longer and deeper reflection. Until then, all options should be kept open: supplementary interpretative declarations, extra protocols, rewriting part of the text, rewriting the whole text, drafting a new text and so on. Which option is best and feasible will only emerge at the end of the period of reflection. The conclusion cannot be drawn now. But one thing is certain: the status quo - that is, the current Treaties - is not sufficient for this Union in its enlarged form to function effectively or democratically. This issue will not go away.
    Richard Corbett, Saltaire, Yorkshire

    European countries can trade, work and socialise with each other without wagonloads of red tape and beaurocracy crushing them down. The constitution is a no-go area. When are the people of Britain going to have their say on it?
    Sheena Campbell, Edinburgh

    The EU and its leaders need to stop looking for grandiose projects such as creating "Constitution for Europe". It may be true that what was in actual fact created was more of a "treaty" than a "constitution". But this did not stop EU leaders from selling it as if it were one. What a mistake that turned out to be! If the text was sold to the citizens on what was actually in it rather than what they aspired it to be then the EU might not be in situation it is in now.
    Peter J Franks, Brussels

    Confidence. Europeans must re-educate themselves to think and act like one nation, and the place to start is with the governments, the ruling elites. While every politician must, and always will, look out for hers/his constituents, Europe must come first. The citizens don't as yet see this. It is not there yet. Constitution. We are not ready. Lets work on first things first.
    Gunars Reinis, Riga, Latvia/Lafayette, CA. USA

    The big mistake that the E.U. is making is that it is trying to achieve a form of international goverment by increment. The peoples of Europe do not want this. They want peace and prosperity, something the EU has failed to deliver.
    Martin Porter, London UK

    Some of the above comments still indicate just how out of touch the EU is with its population. The constitution has been rejected twice by a referendum - how many other countries would have rejected it had they been allowed a vote. I am sure that the UK would also reject such an unworkable document. The EU needs to get its house in order on corruption /fraud / wasting 'our' money etc before it can be taken seriously again. For 11 years running that the accounts have failed to be signed off - if the EU were a business it would have gone bankrupt years ago and its directors would be in jail.
    Paul, Winchester, England

    The concept of a European Union was built on preventing another war in Europe. It needs a different purpose than that to be useful to the people of Europe. The difficulty for many people is that most of the great ideas for "Europe" can also be achieved through independent countries working closer together. If that is the case, why need the bureaucracy and cost of an EU at all? Therein lies the dilemma.
    Paul Robinson, Abingdon, UK

    It was refreshing to see many of the people quoted on your page refer to increasing democracy within the union, though it doesn't seem to have occurred to any of them that every country should consult their populace on whether to ratify the treaty or not - not just have their parliament give a 'Yes' answer. Bronislaw Geremek seems to think that only those countries which didn't ratify the treaty should be asked to vote on a 'a little altered and shortened treaty' - it doesn¿t seem to have crossed his mind that any altered treaty might result in some of those countries changing from 'Yes' to 'No' - but then that sums up the 'lets have our own way at any cost attitude' of so many European officials that alienates so many people.
    K.Davison, London, England

    It is not possible for the EU to gain the confidence of the citizens. The whole structure was designed from the start to exclude them from any democratic power. The absurd constitution confirms this. All decisions are made in Brussels by the commission, rubber-stamped by the 'Parliament' which has no power to change them, and confirmed by the European Court of Justice. The ordinary citizen then pays to have these facts obscured by the spin and propaganda that pours from Brussels,together with the BBC which has always connived to hide them.
    Martin Hulme, Prailles, France

    There must be no constitution (or European taxation) unless the democratic deficit in the EU is made good. By this I mean that the EU executive must derive its authority directly from, and be accountable to, the European Parliament for all its actions. At the same time there would have to be some national protection s well as clear delineation between European and national parliaments with clear limits set to their authority.
    Colin McCulloch, Chorleywood

    Rather than shrink the number of commissioners, why not allow each country to elect two and make them into a second elected chamber, and remove the stupid rules that seem to make the Commission the only proposer of legislation? Oh, and reduce the size of the document - anything that needs that many pages is over-complicated, which realises the worst fears of those of us who consider the EU to be a bureaucratic and dangerous monster. As for confidence, I have every confidence that politicians will do what it takes to improve their chances of re-election, which is why the French and British recently had their budget argument. Too many vested interests that don't want to give up anything they've gained in the past.
    Dave, Cambridge, UK

    I don't know how Martin Porter can claim that the EU has brought neither peace nor prosperity - quite to the contrary - it has bought both! We Europeans are undergoing one of the most prolonged periods of peace and economic growth in recorded history. The Constitution would have finally clarified the nature of the Union, making it truly accessible to citizens. The fatal flaw was to brand a tidying up exercise as something as grand sounding as a constitution.
    James Conway, London

    When Mr. Corbett from Yorkshire states that we should also listen to those who said 'Yes' you do have to keep in mind that very few of those 25 states which said 'Yes' held a referendum. So all that we know is that some politicians agreed on it, not whether the general population in those countries wants it. Some of the people that said 'No' were opposed to the EU in general or to their government, but others like me did not agree with what was in the constitution and the way it is set up. That the politicians try to ignore, saying 'we don't understand it yet'.
    Sjoerd Schurer, Zeist, The Netherlands

    I oppose holding a 2nd referendum on the constitution. Particularly considering some countries haven't even held their first one yet. In my viewpoints, ratifications without a popular vote do not count. And James Conway, the EU did indeed NOT bring peace and prosperity. NATO (read: the US) brought the peace in Europe. And the economy did the rest. The EU is the main cause of many countries economic problems with it's insane insistence on micro management and over regulation.
    Marcel de Vries, The Hague, the Netherlands

    In a world in which there is no longer a credible force for good , the US & the UK having forsaken their ability to make such a claim with recent colonial crusades , we need a new pole. Europe can become such a pole. We have given up the death sentence , we believe in pluralist secular democracy , we believe in the dignity of mankind. We go wrong with the bureaucracy but which nation does not. Where we have a problem is with a pan European vision clear to the people. To refer to this libertarian humanist vision as a "wow factor" is simply vulgar , Big Brother , Sun speak.
    haward, Dusseldorf Germany

    It is more than obvious from this discussion that the public in the UK is completely misinformed with respect to the reasons for the rejection in France and Holland. People, at least in France, did not reject the constitution due to 'sovereignity' concerns etc. The reasons were: 1. The constitution having elements that do not belong to such a document (trade and economic issues) that 'smelled' very much of the 'Aglo-Saxon' model of 'free economy' and were seen as a danger for the European 'social model'. 2. A strong opposition to uncontrolled enlargement, especially Turkey. 3. The demand for more democratic control over the EU. In short Europeans, other than the Britons of course, do not have a problem with a political union, and would probably fully support it, as long as it is to their taste.
    Tim Johnson, Paris/France

    Integration is the only way for Europe. I am deeply offended by the gentleman comparing eu to USSR. USSR was not a democracy like Europe. The Austrian presidency must focus on European unity and rewriting the constitution. Integration is the only way. I think France voted against the government. We must unite.
    Adam Zimpel. , poznan/poland

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