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Last Updated: Wednesday, 17 December, 2003, 11:52 GMT
Will EU states ever fully agree on constitution?
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European Union leaders have failed to reach agreement on a constitution after a two-day Brussels summit.

The talks were deadlocked by Poland and Spain's refusal to surrender voting rights secured at a summit in Nice three years ago.

The EU expands from 15 to 25 states next year, and agreement at Brussels was seen as vital. Poland is one of the new members.

The problem now passes to Ireland, which takes over the presidency from Italy on 1 January.

Will a constitution ever be possible considering the different economic and political motivations for each member state?


This debate is now closed. Thank you for your e-mails. The following comments reflect the balance of views we have received:

I for one would like to see a Union that could stand up to ours. But until Europeans stop trying to control one another and remember that even in America, different states have different tax systems, different rights for minorities, and hundreds of vastly different policies for everything from universal health care to what constitutes free speech, I don't see how they will manage. If we, as one nation, cannot agree, how will they? And after we had one country and a constitution, that didn't stop the civil war, by the way...
Elizabeth, USA

The UK people voted to remain in the "European Economic Community". They have never been allowed to express an opinion on a "European Union" with powers to force the British government to act against the peoples' wishes. The UK should refuse to agree any constitution without a referendum of its population!
BF, London, UK

Spain and Poland supporting the war in Iraq. Poland and Spain disagree over EU constitution. I am wondering if they would arguing so much if they had been offered to be the new two states of America.
P.B, Athens, Greece

The EU has become an institution without value. The only reason it has now is to 1) give local minor politicians the opportunity to clear the way for new politicians in their own country 2) promote high local politicians to a respected European level. Politicians win from it, the countries don't.
Marc, Belgium

I hope not then we can return to being our normal separate countries
Nina, UK
I hope not then we can return to being our normal separate countries. Well we still are but the corruption at the top of the EEC is trying its best to change that. The question is whose stupid idea was it to bring a continent together that were the main causes of fighting each other in the first and second world wars. We may be friendly now, but the countries can not change their beliefs that drastically that they can be that close.
Nina, UK

This is really similar to the early United States of America, before the constitution was finally agreed upon. What is the ultimate goal for the EU? We had a lot of trouble agreeing in the beginning, too. And for the first half of our time as a country, the big issue was Federalism vs. States' Rights.
Kevin, Iowa, USA

We need European political parties, this will surely help the feeling of being part of something bigger than our little countries.
Daniel, UK

Yes a constitution can be agreed upon by all countries. The current draft needs amending definitely and I feel the people should have a role in that. As for Poland and Spain you must not forget that they had a prior agreement on their voting rights. Yet again we see an example of where the rules are being changed as the game moves along. Is a written agreement worth anything in the EU? It seems lately that there are some who are held to the rules and there are others who can break them. I'm not bashing France and Germany but the truth is that they are the ones bending and breaking the rules.
John Murray, Phoenix, USA

If these EU member states are still their personal agenda, how can they work for such a big organization? Individual agendas must be ignored to get success for the greater EU.
Krishna Acharya, UK

We are at a junction. If we want more closely attached Europe, all we need to do, is to copy the constitution of the US: two houses, congress with number of representatives based on population and Senate with one representative from each member state. Bills have to pass both houses with majority vote. The other choice is to keep the EU just as an financial solution for independent countries. Which also allows us to cut down the enormous costs of bureaucrats in Brussels. It is time to decide.
Riku Kivisaari, Espoo, Finland

I never saw a country so against the EU, as the UK. I do not see why they just don't leave. I've heard the tired story of how your politicians don't represent you - well, then make leaving the EU an election issue so you can elect leaders who would leave the EU.

As for Poland, I think Poland should be barred from the EU. Beggars can't be choosers and Poland and Spain made a lot of noise to protect their welfare checks for their farms - welfare checks funded by Germany. So, what if Germany wants equal representation for the amount of effort it puts into the EU? They have more people, more concerns, and therefore, need more of a voice. Personally, I don't think it's the UK who would do better without the EU, it's probably Germany who would do far better without the EU.
Sathish V., USA

Quite right for Poland to stand up for their rights. The EU is too big, and it is unlikely all these countries will agree, France and Germany always do their own thing regardless. The UK needs a referendum. I'm fed up with losing all our rights.
Liz , Shropshire

Let's hope they never agree
Miles, UK

Let's hope they never agree. The EU nation state is a fantasy that is being pushed forward by countries who hope to control it once it reaches maturity, at the expense of the poorer and less influential countries that they convince to join them. We in the UK need to get out whilst we still can.
Miles, UK

I'm a europhile, but I'm glad it failed. The proposed constitution was but an enhancement of economical deregulation, spreading even harsher work conditions throughout Europe. What we need is a truly federal Europe, which will be big enough to force strict economic rules upon the ever greedy rich.
Frederic Lagoanere, France

Of course the EU will have its constitution, what the EU leaders want the EU leaders get - not to worry that the people of their individual countries are all screaming for referendums or becoming evermore vocal against the EU constitution. The break down of the recent summit was just a blip on the EU's long term plan to create a vast European super state.
Derek Bennett, Walsall, England

The EU will sooner or later agree on a constitution. The EU is the only "nation" that can stand up against the mighty economic prowess of the US, and any document relating to it should be well thought out before any steps are taken.
Prashanth Parameswaran, Malaysia

It's too difficult to get so many nations' leaders to all agree on one topic, and personally I don't think they should do it because it seems it will take away from the individuality of each nation, which is becoming a problem.
Brooke, Santa Rosa, CA, USA

This is the other really good news story of the weekend. The failure of the constitutional convention provides a chance to escape from the federal European nightmare. Trying to stitch up all those different countries for no other reason than to secure some sort of hemispheric domination power was and is a recipe for disaster. It's time to listen to the people, and the majority of those don't want further integration. Let's be free.
Dave Mate, Oxford England

This way Europe will be more able to compete with America
Pierre Escobad, Toulouse

The aim of enlarging Europe is to have a bigger market, enlarging the customer base. Demand for various products will be more equally divided across the world. This way Europe will be more able to compete with America, and the globalization problems may be minimized thanks to sharing control of the world's resources, which is desirable to any citizen.
Pierre Escobad, Toulouse, France

Let's accept it we have something in common with most Europeans but not enough to be 100% part of them. We pay in too much and don't get value for money out of the deal. Our politicians cannot fool us for much longer. I love going to visit Europe but that's enough for me my children and perhaps one day my grandchildren. We British are too independently minded - let's watch from the sidelines.
Peter, UK

The main problem, as this weekend has shown is that there is no pan-European political culture.
Sam Tao, Oxford, UK
The main problem, as this weekend has shown is that there is no pan-European political culture. Despite lofty ambitions, an Englishman is an Englishman first and foremost as is a Frenchman a Frenchman first and foremost. Will a German ever vote for an English EU president in a US style Federal election? How do you have a single political culture composed of so many different linguistic and social cultures? Keep the EU as a free-trade area and revel in diversity!
Sam Tao, Oxford, UK

If there is a new constitution, would it be able to bind the French and the Germans to such things as the "stability pact" or would they be able to change the constitution when it suits them?
Mark, UK

Why can't Europe give up its addiction to empire building? Europe needs no new empires.
John, UK

I have but one comment, irrespective of what the leaders agree it is the citizens who must be given a chance to ratify their agreement, unless they do that then they will never be able to move forward.
John, Birmingham England

Until a mechanism is created whereby the smaller states have equal political footing with the larger states, Poland, Spain, et al. are correct in their reservations. The current constitution is merely an attempt by France and Germany to impose their will on the smaller states, in order to satisfy Chirac and Schroeder's desire to create a rival to US power.
Carl, US

Europe will only unite if it feels threatened enough. The threat of terrorism is real, but Europe still deludes itself that it is immune.
David, UK
Europe will only unite if it feels threatened enough. The threat of terrorism is real, but Europe still deludes itself that it is immune. Frankly the only real threat to the EU is, er...the US.
David, UK

I find it ridiculous that German negotiators think Poland and Spain should settle down with less voting power because they have only 40 million inhabitants compared to Germany's 80 million.
Harri, Brussels, Belgium

Forget Constitution development until the EU's Accounts for the last eleven years are all signed off acceptably.
Neil Roberts, Pimlico

To all those who say we should make up our minds, I say we Brits already have! We would reject the Euro by a large margin, we would reject an EU constitution by a large margin and we would reject further integration by a large margin.
Tim, London, UK

They will eventually agree a formula AND then promptly take a leaf out of the French book and do their own thing.
E Warriss, Sheffield
They will eventually agree a formula AND then promptly take a leaf out of the French book and do their own thing. Except the UK that is.
E Warriss, Sheffield, South Yorks

It will be difficult and may still take several years, but everyone must keep trying; this is too good a chance to lose for a united Europe. It is also a good opportunity for us in the UK (especially England) to get rid of our imperial past (which is mostly shameful, and develop a new mindset based on community with others, while keeping our differences.
Bob, UK

Just last week Gillette announced that it was closing both its factories in the UK and moving to Eastern Europe. Just how is that in our interests, to allow the export of our jobs to new EU members, who can then export back to Britain goods made with the benefit of subsidies paid for by us in Britain? That is why Britain is overwhelmingly opposed to enlargement and the constitution and we should simply get out and prosper on our own like Norway, and Switzerland.
Sacha, Surrey

Britons should take a look at the rest of Europe: Hospital waiting lists are non-existent in France, public transport in Holland, Belgium and Germany is second to none, the crime rate in Europe is lower than the UK, teenage pregnancy is lower in the rest of Europe, life expectancy is higher in Europe the list goes on. What's so bad about being more like them?
Luke, Grays, Essex

How come the average Britons always are so eager to criticise anything that has "Europe" in it, call their country to pull out of the EU, and do not do anything about it in the end
Olivier, Brussels, Belgium
I will never understand how come the average Britons always are so eager to criticise anything that has "Europe" in it, call their country to pull out of the EU, and do not do anything about it in the end. If you cannot be constructive, you should not join / have joined, and you should AT LEAST have the guts to do what you say.
Olivier, Brussels, Belgium

To Olivier of Belgium - what we joined in 1973 was 'the Common Market', a simple trading bloc. Since then it has been hijacked by the political unifiers and it is now the 'EU'. It bears no relation to that which we joined. We have been steam-rollered along the political union path, and we have never been consulted. Time to leave, I say.
Andrew Howlett, Manchester, England

We would all like to think that the EU could actually decide on something, but I have a feeling that this will be highly unlikely. Maybe it is time for a new European council that can actually decide on something.
Paul Henman, Dunstable, England

Full integration as a federal state of Europe would be the worst thing that could happen to the UK and other smaller countries
Carole Armstrong-Holmes, England
Full integration as a federal state of Europe would be the worst thing that could happen to the UK and other smaller countries. They will be bullied by France and Germany into whatever is best for them. It is time our politicians especially Tony Blair stopped thinking of their own political and financial future and thought more of ours.
Carole Armstrong-Holmes, England

The memory of journalists and commentators seems to be unbelievably short. It was only three years ago, at the end of the French presidency, that the Nice agreement was signed during the last hours of the last night. Why is everybody blaming the Poles? An agreement proposed by the French only three years ago, accepted by the Germans three years ago, is no good today? And that is the fault of the Poles? Once again the arrogance of the large members has made it impossible to develop the EU!
Tapani, Nurmijärvi, Finland

Only as long as it contains enough holes and ambiguities to please everyone. Oh, and it must also allow all countries power to veto anything they don't like anyway.
David R, Plymouth, UK

Well done Poland for standing up for what you believe is right. You did not want your struggle away from communism to be thrown away on another bunch of unelected, unaccountable, corrupt officials.
Paul, UK

The EU in its present form is a complete waste of time. Corruption is wide spread. The Euro is a disaster waiting to happen and the French and Germans simply won't agree to anything that does not benefit them. The UK should get out now.
J Bridge, Leighton Buzzard

What we need in Europe is free trade, freedom of movement of goods and capital
Paddy, Edinburgh, GB
Not really. What we need in Europe is free trade, freedom of movement of goods and capital, perhaps freedom of movement for people and scientific cooperation. These are the basis that will prevent violent competitiveness (wars) and promote peaceful commercial activity within Europe. The rest is self-indulgence on the part of the European Commission that will not further help Europe to achieve these goals but more would cause grief due to unnecessary compromises. As a nation we have to concentrate on the wider world, not just on the small corner that is Europe. If you wish for further integration, go ahead but that is not the purpose of the EU.
Paddy, Edinburgh, GB

Dear all EU citizens:
I am 14 years old and am very new to the controversy surrounding the EU constitution. I understand that the EU is an economic pact right now, but some seem to want to expand that role into something bold and different. Can anyone explain to me what form you want the EU to take, say 25 years from now? Also, can anyone tell me what roles this EU will play that are not covered by existing alliances, or what common value this EU will represent, or the driving purpose of this union will be?
Ethan, USA

Mr Chirac has hinted at a two-speed Europe, if this is the case I strongly advise Mr Blair to get into the slow lane, take the next junction and get of the highway to hell.
Matt, Aylesbury, England

Well, Europe will survive. The six founding countries will start a two-speed EU. And the UK should make up their mind and to stop boring continental Europeans with their egocentric discussion whether their belonging to Europe or not. I would welcome the UK at the core, but it is their choice. However, please make up your mind quickly!
Alexander, Berlin, Germany

It would seem that this is such a catastrophe but it may simply be too soon for a real constitution. From my perspective far away, the people of Europe should decide to do this if it serves them and promotes peace in Europe. The gentleman from Austria has it closest. A Federal system with 2 houses, one based on population and one based on the state, independent judiciary. Contrary to many comments here, the people of the USA and our government would like to see a strong EU. We may not always agree, but one voice from Europe and the USA could only be of benefit to the peace and prosperity of the world.
Garland Byron, Lafayette, Indiana, USA

Reading all your comments just proves how hard it must be to play the role of a politician today
John Maletka, France
Reading all your comments just proves how hard it must be to play the role of a politician today. All EU heads of state want to be appear to be true Europeans, working for a brighter future, but at the same time they have to protect their own backs in order to maintain power, hence the deadlock. It will take a lot of courage and vision to advance the EU machine, but for that you need a good pilot. Perhaps that's what's missing!
John Maletka, Cernay, Alsace France

To John Maletka: No we do not need a good pilot; we need an aircraft that will fly. Instead we have a 1000 ton plane with 16 wings, 4 motors, two pointing backwards, and no fire exits. No wonder it will not fly, and it never will no matter how good the pilot is. Like Concorde, it was a nice idea but which is totally unacceptable today.
Mike, Guildford

The EU doesn't need a constitution; it needs proper enforcement of open trade rules. Giscard d'Estaing is a confused fossil worrying about what colour to paint the mast while the ship is sinking.
David Johnson, London, UK

We will never get complete agreement, but do we want it? The EU costs English people too much money. We should get our full independence back as soon as possible. Pull out of the EU.
John Kearney, Derby, England.

What should be happening is a complete root and branch re-think of what the EU should be about
Stuart Dollin, England
In a way it's quite amusing to see another country instead of the UK as the 'awkward squad' of Europe. If this 'constitution' was simply a bringing together of five or six treaties to which we've all signed up into a single unified whole, then I wouldn't have a problem with it - there'd be nothing new and greater clarity and understanding.
But what is being proposed seems to be something completely new, extending the bounds of the EU beyond a group of sovereign states working together on matters of mutual interest. And therein lies the problem - each country is a sovereign state with its own culture and constitution, each with its own interests inside and outside Europe. Anything that threatens those interests is bound to be vigorously resisted and should be. In short, this is a missed opportunity. What should be happening is a complete root and branch re-think of what the EU should be about, a co-operation of sovereign state and fundamentally not an over-riding superstate.
Stuart Dollin, England

How can we have a united Europe with such deep-seated, historical rivalries underpinning our relationships? Everyone has something to prove or gain for themselves. Hardly the right basis for further economic and social integration, is it?
Adam Jones, Swansea, Wales.

In my opinion, people in Central Europe are not really interested in whether or not it will be a superstate. People in these countries expect a better life and better wages. There is no such a thing in the mind of the Central-Europeans such as new and old Europe.
Richard, Budapest Hungary

To Ralf of Germany:
It's easy to point fingers across the Atlantic regarding America's "rule breaking" but it is perhaps much harder to look at your own? Didn't Germany just get out of the very financial rules they set forth? Is France eating UK beef - yet? How about those French farming subsidies?
Caroline, New Jersey, USA

It's difficult - if the votes are biased towards the greater populous countries then we could see a bias towards their interests. On the other hand, if medium-sized countries have greater influence then they could damage the larger countries. How about one country, one vote? It still has its' problems. All the voting schemes share the same fundamental problem - trust. If we are to act as a union we have to trust each other to vote for what is best for the union as a whole, not for our individual nation's interests. Is Europe ready for that?
Graeme Stewart, UK

It may appear to be a free market, but it is really a giant wall of protection and trade barriers to the outside world
Daniel, Czech Republic
I believe that those who claim that Spain or Poland are being selfish do not realise how the EU really works. It may appear to be a free market, but it is really a giant wall of protection and trade barriers to the outside world, and within many industries, particularly those operating under the high-cost CAP rules, a huge old-boys cartel. France and Germany simply want to protect their own cartels from entrants such as Poland whose businesses are not yet entirely under their influence and do not always play by their rules. I have seen this first hand with experience of French and German investors here, and any comments about idealism and wonderful federal EU states make me only laugh.
Daniel, Czech Republic

I hope they don't! Winston Churchill said in a speech to Zurich University in 1946 "The structure of the United States of Europe, if well and truly built, will be such as to make the material strength of a single state less important. Small nations will count as much as large ones"
Michael, Cheshire, UK

I cannot understand why they would enter into a superstate
Colin Keesee, USA
Why would people in Eastern and Central Europe want to join a political union like the EU? After spending a century fighting for countries of their own I cannot understand why they would enter into a superstate where they would once again be a minority and have little control over their own destiny.
Colin Keesee, USA

The people who keep complaining about Polish "selfishness" should wake up and learn a little bit of Polish history. The Poles have fought hard for their independence and liberty and are not as willing as some other countries to just throw it away.
Annie, USA

Just by reading all the comments here it's not surprising that the EU is a mess and nothing can be agreed.
Dan Lee, London

The strength of democracy is compromise and listening
Håkan, Stockholm, Sweden
For once I agree with Berlusconi. Rather a good deal later, then a bad one now. Democracy does not grow from fast decisions in unity, the strength of democracy is compromise and listening, and acknowledging different ideas. Forcing decisions is not a treat of democracy!
Håkan, Stockholm, Sweden

Who is the driving force behind the constitution? Is it the people of Europe or the political classes? It seems that there was so much disagreement over Iraq that it is hard to find agreement throughout the EU. Would the UK have been able to support the US from within the constitution? Why is deeper integration "inevitable"? If you sign up to something because it is "inevitable" without questioning or examining the proposals, then you are not doing anyone any favours.
Andy, Albany, USA (Brit)

Lets be honest, the EU will never work until the whole thing is put on a FULL democratic footing by electing a fully functional European parliament
Michael McIver, St Leonards on Sea

The problem with Europe on the whole, is that we all lead very different styles of life, which cannot be successfully united without serious changes. We don't even speak the same languages as our neighbours, which to me seems to be a bit of a red herring when you are looking for unity between member states.
Andy B, Leeds, UK

A European constitution is crucial in strengthening the union, and mostly in showing the US that Europe is capable of collective decision making.
Marie Deschamps, France/ USA

Lots of people have put forward the view that we should form a federal European state to rival the US. Surely we should be doing this for reasons that will benefit us, which I have yet to see.
Ben, UK

Lots of people have put forward the view that we should form a federal European state to rival the US. Surely we should be doing this for reasons that will benefit us, which I have yet to see.
Ben, UK

Reading all these posts I just have one question. Many in Continental Europe support the EU, desire an EU Constitution, participate in the EURO, and see a future for a united Europe. If British citizens do not share this vision, than for the benefit of us both, why stay?
James, Central Europe

I wish UK people had a friendlier approach and be more visionary towards EU - like the Irish for instance- and see this continent in 30 years from now. If Poland doesn't like the EU constitutional proposals then it can stay out of EU, it's only fair to have a voting system in proportion to the size of the country. Everyone has to give up some rights so the whole European continent can benefit and can stand up on its own against external global dangers like terrorism, bad regimes (N.Korea) bulling US policies (under certain administrations) etc.
Tony, London, UK

Spain and Poland have proved to be more supportive of the US in the war against Iraq than of its EU partners. This is only the continuation of such tendencies. Maybe Poland should be banned from entering.
Ante Gagic, Amsterdam, Holland

This is really fascinating. What most pro-EU posters on this board seem not to understand is that most Americans actually want more unity in Europe.
Mario Antonelli, Chicago, IL, USA

This is really fascinating. What most pro-EU posters on this board seem not to understand is that most Americans actually want more unity in Europe, particularly if this means the globe will not be dragged into another world war on par or exceeding those of the last century. However, what would give Americans pause is if the underlying purpose of the EU is not peace, unity and trade, but rather specifically to act as a counter-balance (read competitor) with the U.S.
Mario Antonelli, Chicago, USA

I am afraid it is the Tower of Babel all over again. Any agreements will be short lived as long as each country retains it's own sovereignty.
Graeme, Gloucester UK

I find it at least curious and at most suspicious that the Anglo-Americans are stubbornly sceptical and unintelligently destructive against any idea of European integration. But deep inside them they know that however hard they try to expose the differences among the Continental European people, they can never stop the irreversible and natural process of political integration. It is up to the English to decide the long-tern future of their children, in or out of Europe.
Tassos, Geneva, Switzerland

I honestly wish Europeans all the best. However, how can you talk about an EU Constitution without an EU?! From where I sit there is NO European Union, but European Disunion! EU, at this stage is merely a Common Market as before, nothing more. It does not have a common foreign policy, it does not have a common defence policy; nay, it does not even have a unified military force worth its salt. Isn't it true, or am I simply blind?
Mirek Kondracki, Washington, DC, USA

I personally don't understand the strong scepticism towards the constitution. And I think there is also a need to include Britain as one of the leading countries in the EU.
Charles, Lyon, France
I personally don't understand the strong scepticism towards the constitution. And I think there is also a need to include Britain as one of the leading countries in the EU. There is no aversion against the Poles from France or Germany. Europe needs a constitution. Perhaps not the one that is in work, but something that helps to settle problems by a jurisdiction.
Charles, Lyon, France

It's useless to have a constitution for EU, there are two different visions of Europe. On one hand, there are those who want to be Europeans and want to fund a real European country, they share the same value, the same money and fill each day closer, that's what Rumsfeld called "Old Europe". On the other hand you have many countries which see EU as a trade organisation, UK, Poland etc. They don't want to lose their nationality and systematically oppose steps toward a strong EU.
Luc, France

If an EU constitution makes it illegal for the UK to continue with its current anti-Catholic laws (the Laws of Succession) then more power to it!
A, UK

Why bother with a constitution? The French and German's break the rules when they want anyway! The Poles have had enough of being dominated by other European's and their views should be respected like any other state. The Irish have had their fair share from the EU so they should let others get their snouts in to the trough!!
Rob Thomson, Sheffield, UK

There will be the usual fudge, with Britain playing principal spoiler and opting out of so many clauses as to make any treaty irrelevant. I don't really like the attitude of some of the new entrants, especially Poland, who seem to think they are suddenly in the driving seat.
Harry Liddle, Cork, Ireland

There will be the usual fudge, with Britain playing principal spoiler and opting out of so many clauses as to make any treaty irrelevant. I don't really like the attitude of some of the new entrants, especially Poland, who seem to think they are suddenly in the driving seat. Grateful entrants should try to be more charming to club members of longer standing, or risk a slap on the face from the same hands that fill their begging bowl.
Harry Liddle, Cork, Ireland

"Grateful entrants should try to be more charming to club members of longer standing, or risk a slap on the face from the same hands that fill their begging bowl" - Harry Liddle, Cork. That's right Harry. They should take some lessons from us Irish. We've been doing it for over 30 years!
John Lehane, Cork, Ireland

Who cares about the fact that France and Germany are the most populous European countries! We Poles are talking about a real and fair constitution with the same rights, duties and responsibilities for all members of the European Union. HARRY LIDDLE from Ireland - We demand to be treated as a partner not like a beggar. So, Harry, learn a little bit about Polish history and I'm sure you'll understand what we are talking about.
Guido, Bielsko-Biala - Poland

The remarks of Harry Liddle of Ireland are more than a bit rich - particularly as Eire has gained more than most from EEC funding (as a quick trip around the rapidly developing Irish Road Network will quickly reveal). Does he now wish to deny new member states the same benefits - simply because they seek to adhere to the rules under which they joined? Or is he worried about future funding of the "Celtic Tiger"?
Andy, Forest of Dean UK

To Harry Liddle of Cork: Ireland is a net recipient of EU largesse as much as Poland will be. Who is the beggar? And who is the donor? The UK which you evidently despise.
John, UK

Harry Liddle is an example of what is wrong with Europe. Charming to the more senior members? Europeans have a class society so engrained into their being that they cannot fathom what it would be like to exist without "knowing your place." Poland has a right to fight for itself, as does any other EU member.
Thom, USA

We are all aware that Eire is a net recipient of EU funds and are very grateful. It will not last forever and one day we will pay for others to transform themselves.
Desmond Leahy, Kilkenny, Ireland
I think Harry Liddle is taking an unwarranted beating. We are all aware that Eire is a net recipient of EU funds and are very grateful. It will not last forever and one day we will pay for others to transform themselves. Newly entered Poland is threatening to veto the constitution because it contains a voting reform designed to give Germany, and others, votes in proportion to population. Germany is the biggest contributor to the EU, and therefore much of the money directed at Poland, and this is the gratitude it receives.
Desmond Leahy, Kilkenny, Ireland

This has nothing to do with us. Effectively we, Europeans, are all the same. This political bickering boils down to the amount of control politicians have in Europe.
Ross, UK

This has nothing to do with us. Effectively we, Europeans, are all the same. This political bickering boils down to the amount of control politicians have in Europe. If the politicians spent half as much time thinking about us rather than how much power they have we would all be a lot better off.
Ross, UK

Why do you all insist on objecting to a more federal EU on the grounds that it will never be "harmonious"? What political system ever has been? Increasing European integration, of which the Constitution is the most concrete representation, is inevitable due to reasons we all agree to - collapsing borders, free movement of workers and trade, cultural globalisation. We have to ask ourselves why we cling so pathetically to ideas of national sovereignty which we probably don't understand, and stand firm against integration with flimsy jingoistic concepts which are unlikely to change in our lifetimes?
Gareth, Belfast, N Ireland

There too many secret agendas within the member states for there ever to be any sort of lasting agreement. Until all the PEOPLE of the union are allowed a FAIR referendum on the Constitution it will never be really accepted.
PM Edwards, Peterborough, England

I think that there is a need for a multiple-speed EU. As with the Euro, if some countries don't want to ratify the constitution, then they should stay out politically and let others proceed. Poland especially should not join the EU at all if they want to impose their self-centred views (voting rights and Christianity) before even joining.
Maciamo, Tokyo, Japan (European)

It is incredible how many American and English nationalists in this forum are against a United Europe! Why do they fear a powerful and peaceful Europe?
Ralf, Germany

It is incredible how many American and English nationalists in this forum are against a United Europe! Why do they fear a powerful and peaceful Europe? I think, because many in the Anglo-American axis fear that they could lose the domination over the rest of the world and its wealth!
Ralf, Germany

To Ralf from Germany, we do not fear a peaceful or powerful Europe - what we do fear is a Europe dominated by Germany and France who constantly break rules that they themselves insist other member states obey.
Paul, Winchester, England

To Paul, Winchester, England: Then you should fear the USA too! Remember the US-tariffs on imported steel!
Ralf, Germany

To Ralf, Germany. The USA backed down over those - will the EU do the same when they realise that the constitution is never going to work. What will happen when those countries lucky enough to get a referendum on this subject say NO as 1 or 2 probably will.
Paul, Winchester, England

No-one here seems to have asked an obvious question - is having a constitution a good thing in the first place. Constitutions prevent organic change to a country and hamper them with age old 'rights' that are no longer relevant.
Chris, London, UK
No-one here seems to have asked an obvious question - is having a constitution a good thing in the first place. Constitutions prevent organic change to a country and hamper them with age old 'rights' that are no longer relevant. Will the constitution be flexible and amendable - in which case why not stick with European Parliamentary Law which is more general and more flexible.
Chris, London, UK

Rather than talking about if we can agree on it - the vast majority in the UK want to get out of the EU - so lets talk about withdrawing - I have never been given a vote on this nor has my Son.
James Myer, UK

The proposed EU Constitution is too long, Europe is too old and the constitution itself is striving to include too many things. It has no room to breathe so it is doomed to fail.
Mike Canada, University of Durham

Question: Is Mrs Thatcher's rebate safe in the hands of Jack Straw?
Alan, Chelmsford UK

The only way that there will be agreement on a European constitution is if there is that little in it that it will be effectively meaningless.
Marcus, Nottingham and Edinburgh, UK

If you look at the USA, each state retains their own legislation, taxation and justice system. It is therefore hard to imagine how separate European countries with a history longer than the USA itself, would be able to conform to a single consolidated policy. Clearly a pointless, unachievable goal.
Richard Philips, UK

There is a huge problem with the language barrier
Giacomo, Barcelona
I think that before following through to a constitution, the EU must work to integrate each individual country within the concept of political, welfare, defence etc. unity. People often forget that there is a huge problem with the language barrier. Each European citizen must be able to understand and communicate in a common language, and in many parts of Europe (i.e. Spain) there is no mutual understanding between Europeans.
Giacomo, Barcelona

The benefits in reaching agreement are clear - the US would finally have to take another world power seriously. On the other hand the dangers are equally clear - we would endanger distancing the US by aligning our policies with those of France and Germany (they clearly have grand ambitions for European defence and integration). The process has begun, the ball is rolling, agreement will be reached but painfully, and over many of these summits - language being the smallest barrier.
James, Great Britain

In a word: no. All it takes is the veto of one Member, and there are far too many sacred issues to reach unanimity on most of them.
Damian Leach, UK

The simple answer is NO, when do you ever get politicians agreeing on anything, if they did agree it would be classed as one of the great wonders of our time.
E Sloan, England

It saddens me that such a huge opportunity will be missed because of age-old grievances
Ian, Brit in USA
Since they have so far failed to agree on almost anything of real consequence, how much hope can one have that a Constitution that appeals to all sides can become a reality? It saddens me that such a huge opportunity will be missed because of age-old grievances, knee-jerk reactionaries, and power-hungry demagogues all vying to be the cause of its failure.
Ian, Brit in USA

Single Currency? How about sorting out 11 Languages and a few more to come, plus some diametrically opposed concepts of justice. I think we should stop the experiment right here.
Duncan, London UK

Europe should remain a trading block of nations who all each have their own identity. To push it to total integration would no doubt lead to oblivion. We are already seeing how a fixed single currency is stifling economic growth in the member countries with high levels of unemployment. And the European constitution, if Blair takes us into it without a referendum then he will be staring into oblivion at the next election.
C J Beaven, Stevenage, UK

If you call compromising seeing eye to eye then probably. A constitution will only be workable by omission because it can only work in a federal system.
Tony, Welling, Kent

The constitution should be put to the vote in every single participating country. Unless the people vote yea or nay, it is little short of an attack on democracy itself and nothing more than the consolidation of dictatorial governance by an elite of bureaucrats.
Michael Hill, UK

The only thing they truly have in common is that they share a land mass
Allison, USA
I doubt it will ever be possible. Europe is a region of many languages and cultures. The only thing they truly have in common is that they share a land mass. That is not enough to unite them and has been the source of wars between European countries for hundreds of years. Each country is looking out for their own special interests and they wish to use the power of a united Europe to attain their individual goals for their countries. It just won't work.
Allison, USA

How can the EU, a union of sovereign States, have a constitution? Thank goodness Poland, Spain, and probably the UK when push comes to shove, will scupper this mad idea and keep the EU as it is.
Tim, St Helens, England

A constitution only has a symbolic value like almost all agreements. For instance; the euro must symbolize the economic unity. Where are the UK and Denmark? A second example is the fact that the national debt has to stay under a certain point. Who punished Germany and France?
Kevin, Turnhout, Belgium

People are deluding themselves if you think a united Europe will provide an effective counter-balance to the US. The US is a country of action (for better or worse), unlike its European "partners."
Brian, UK

The problem is that Europe isn't one voice or one people. The US may have had 13 colonies, but the background was basically the same (White western European and Christian). Europe has many too many different nationalities, different political leanings and religious beliefs to have one voice.
Sean, US

I doubt there will ever be a time that ALL member states of the EU will agree
Paul, Surrey, UK
I doubt there will ever be a time that ALL member states of the EU will agree, though I do not doubt that there will be various parties caving in to the demands of others. Mr Blair can say what he likes, but we all know that he will say one thing and do another and never allow us to have a say.
Paul, Surrey, UK

I keep reading about this constitution and why the UK will have no choice but to be part of it. Can anyone explain to me why Switzerland, arguably one of the best and most prosperous countries in the world and located in the middle of Europe chooses not to be part of it? There must be very valid reasons which others should take note of.
Les, Morpeth, England

Europe will almost agree a constitution eventually, after all look how far we have come. I personally don't fear Brussels, simply because I can not foresee any circumstance where national governments would be usurped by a central European body. The EU will resolve its difference through discussion, perhaps a difficult concept for Americans to understand. To my compatriots from the UK I would just say, try living in Europe as a European before you decide that everything EU is bad.
Paul, Belgium

Well, let's hope not ... squabbling Europeans might need a "constitution", but our political system is far more advanced.
Mark M. Newdick, US/UK

Isn't the EU constitution being pushed for by some of the same people who wrote the rules regarding the euro? Haven't several of those rules been BROKEN by these same people?
Will, London, UK

Isn't the EU constitution being pushed for by some of the same people who wrote the rules regarding the euro? Haven't several of those rules been BROKEN by these same people? I'm looking at you France and Germany. If they can't follow their own rules with the euro, what good is writing another set of rules like a constitution?
Will, London, UK

Europe is in trouble with the possible veto of Poland and Spain. What we have is only an example of what it would be in the future.
Nelson Rotsaert, Belgium

Ted Heath deceived the British people into thinking they were joining a Common Market and covered up the other issues he had covertly agreed to in order to get membership. Since then, Thatcher, Major and Blair have followed the same strategy in the belief that the ends justify the means and people will fall into line eventually. The resulting mistrust has to be addressed and the people must be allowed to speak.
Ken, UK

Yes, they likely will agree to something. I do not think that it will be a strong constitution. Many members are reluctant to give up sovereignty to a body that seems to be increasingly controlled by France and Germany. I particularly think this applies to the UK. In the end, I am not sure what the EU will look like, other than a strong free trade regime.
Nathan, New Orleans, USA

I'd be willing to lay out large amounts of money to bet that most people expressing an opinion on this subject won't have read the draft constitution.
Katherine, London, UK
I'd be willing to lay out large amounts of money to bet that most people expressing an opinion on this subject won't have read the draft constitution. E.g. me. I haven't read it, don't really know what's in it and no news or government source has felt the need to enlighten me. Here's my two pence worth - whatever the outcome, I'd rather the UK was in there fighting for our rights than sitting around on the sidelines, sniping at anything and everything that is suggested, and ultimately missing the boat.
Katherine, London, UK

It wasn't a picnic when the US Constitution was being created. We had 13 colonies that couldn't agree either. That is why there will always be amendments.
Russ Black, USA

In their drive by the Americans for world domination, the prospect of a United States of Europe is one to be prevented by the US government by as many means at their disposal as possible. They will go to any length to promote discord between European countries. The Americans are very afraid of the power of a completely united Europe, Europeans do not seem to understand this, or if they do they just ignore it.
Dr Ivor H Dunlop, Victoria BC Canada

Europe has been feuding for centuries. The difference is that today they are more civil about their feuds.
Jeff, Springfield, VA

History condemns Europe to warfare, most notably against each other. Europe has a chance to reverse centuries of warring and to create a neo nation of European peoples which will hopefully be for the better good of the people in the near and long future.
John, Los Angeles, USA

History condemns Europe to warfare, most notably against each other. Europe has a chance to reverse centuries of warring and to create a neo nation of European peoples which will hopefully be for the better good of the people in the near and long future. Can they look past their cultural and petty differences and not end up in another massive European war?
John, Los Angeles, USA

Not likely. Why would any individual state and it's citizens be willing to give up certain rights to a bureaucracy led and controlled by the likes of France and Germany?
Bill, NJ, USA

To Bill, NJ, USA: maybe because it beats being bullied around by Washington. Europe needs to speak with one voice and act as one man. That is the only way to make sure that all European interests are protected. But instead we once again see that there are those who want Europe to remain divided and weak. Divide et Impera no longer!
Bernard, Belgium

I personally would like to see the UK out of the EU. I don't even understand why there should be all this negative feedback from the UK about the EU.
Adam, Europe
I personally would like to see the UK out of the EU. I don't even understand why there should be all this negative feedback from the UK about the EU. You want your sovereignty - keep it and good riddance. The last thing the EU needs right now is for the UK to throw a wrench in the creation of a strong federal EU that will at some time have the power like the US. We don't need another Kashmir, Middle East, and Cyprus mess which were all created under British "Rule and Sovereignty".
Adam, Europe

To Adam, Europe: 'Strong Federal EU'! Don't make me laugh!
Dan, UK

The new constitution for the EU is a bad idea. It entrenches the centralisation of power in Brussels. Poland is right to stick to its position. Each country should have equal voting rights as each country's democracy is equally valid and shouldn't be easily over-ridden as the bureaucrats want.
James Wild, London UK

Yes, Germany and France are the most populous states and it should be reflected in the European Parliament. However, the voting rights should create a need for all-European compromise, so that the biggest countries cannot dictate their will on others. If demography was everything, China would completely dominate other countries, now "disproportionately represented" in the UN Security Council.
Szymon Debski, Krakow

Of course, there will be a constitution, but it will pathetic at best. The European "Union" will never get its act together and that is clear. There are simply too many culture clashes, since diversity has hardly been mastered by the Europeans. Europe is simply looking to counter the USA, but that will not happen in the near future. Any attempts by the Euros to "block" the US in any way will result in utter defeat.
Patrick, USA

Like it or not EU will have a new constitution. If not tomorrow it will be the day after. A hard core will be constitute by Germany, France and others countries that understand that the future belongs to EU.
N. Gibert, Paris, France

Like it or not EU will have a new constitution. If not tomorrow it will be the day after. A hard core will be constitute by Germany, France and others countries that understand that the future belongs to EU. Then the usual late-comer as UK will beg to enter in this community, and that would be a very bad thing because we don't need this colony of US.
N. Gibert, Paris, France

When held up next to its counterparts both in and out of Europe, I see little reason to be optimistic about the EU's so-called constitution.'
T.J. Cassidy, Arlington, USA

Unfortunately not with Poland or the UK. What the EU needs is countries which support what Europe is trying to accomplish not fighting it. Europe needs strong leadership now, someone who can bring all the countries in the EU together, if these means getting rid of the dissenters then so be it.
Bill, UK

Yes, I expect they will agree on a new constitution. But the idea that the constitution would make the EU more accountable and democratic has been lost somewhat along the way. The member states have ensured that the EU will remain as unaccountable as ever - and therefore will still not be fully supported by their citizens. What a shame and what a lost opportunity.
Mark Stott, Northallerton, UK

Centralisation simply does not work. People simply do not accept rulings on difficult matters from people or entities that are totally divorced from them.
Hugh Payne, York, England
Centralisation simply does not work. People simply do not accept rulings on difficult matters from people or entities that are totally divorced from them. If centralisation in Brussels is such a good thing, why are we devolving power to Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, and perhaps even northern England?
Hugh Payne, York, England

Let's hope not. The sooner we pull out of this ridiculous European Union the better and then we may be great again.
Stuart, England

I hope not. The whole EU structure is undemocratic, riddled with fraud (the accounts have not been signed off yet again) and driven by self interest. The sooner it reverts back to a trading block the better, as it is an un-natural alliance, and like Yugoslavia and the USSR, will eventually disintegrate.
John C, Bath, UK

Like it or not, Europe will have a constitution in near future. As for UK, they are one leg in, one leg out. Some day they will have no choice but to be in or out. Short term may be better for Europe to have them out, being part of the larger Anglo World and constantly watering down European Policy and Strategy.
Thomas, Canada

I hope Poland and Spain are soundly defeated in their attempt to put national pride above a new voting system that will be fairer in that it makes all countries equal in requiring a majority of countries and yet puts all Europe's citizens as equal as well. The current voting system is unfair and will lead to gridlock. If this is all what we have to look forward to from Poland then I think they and the Spanish should be shown the exit door.
Graham, England

The reason we don't have a constitution like the Americans, is that the people at the top don't want you to have one, they like the system just the way it is
David Martin, UK

The reason we don't have a constitution like the Americans, is that the people at the top don't want you to have one, they like the system just the way it is, you at the bottom poor, powerless and common; and with no way to change it. What about reform of the House of Lords, what about a Bill of Rights, what about a modern day democracy for the peoples of Europe.
David Martin, UK

To my mind, is impossible to satisfy all present and future members of the EU. In my opinion it is good that Poland and Spain are `fighting` for their rights. Under no circumstances, should Poland and Spain change their stand over the EU constitution. I am a Pole and probably my opinion is not objective. I wonder what other people think about this? I'd be very grateful if anybody could share his view.
Ralf, Poland

To Ralf from Poland, I think the general opinion in the other countries is that Spain and Poland are just being selfish, while the objections of others are ae at least based on more general visions and principles. Poland and Spain are certainly not doing the small member states a favour, the largest of which, The Netherlands, is not that much smaller than your country, Poland. A voting power simply related to the number of inhabitants would be best.
Frans, Amsterdam, Netherlands

< Good comment from Harry Liddle except the fact that Ireland has never been a net contributor to the EU. Maybe those with hands already 'in the begging bowl' are scared they will get less?
Wyatt , Canterbury, England

I sincerely hope so - some time in my life I want the British people to realise that it's them that's backward, not their European neighbours. Upward and onward, please.
Andrew M, Walsall, UK

On past form, France and Germany will conform to the bits they like and ignore the rest, while the UK will enforce every last comma with an army of bureaucrats.
Brian W, Chelmsford, UK

We were only asked if we wanted to join a trading club
Andy, Gloucester UK
In the UK we have never been asked whether we wanted to share sovereignty - we were only asked if we wanted to join a trading club. Had we been so asked the answer at any time in the last 50 years would have been NO. So any UK Government that has to tread very carefully on simply due to the original misrepresentation of "Common Market" by the Heath Government in 1972 and the unwillingness of subsequent Governments to come clean. So, as far as the UK are concerned, any "constitution" that further erodes our National Sovereignty should be kicked firmly into touch.
Andy, Gloucester UK

British people are on the whole anti the European Union and most of what it stands for. The reasons behind this, whether they are old dislikes from wars etc or genuine concerns of where the EU is going, are not relevant. I would like to see a referendum where by Britain decides if it wants to be in this group at all because right now it's half in half out.
James, London

No a constitution for the EU will never really exist. Sovereign countries make there own decisions. The EU should stay the course as an economic force. It should stay out of the business of being a governmental one.
Mike Daly, Hackettstown, NJ - USA

Hopefully not. I'm very pro-European, but I think it is naive to pretend that all countries in Europe share the same political and economic concerns.
Rustam Roy, England (ex-India)
Hopefully not. I'm very pro-European, but I think it is naive to pretend that all countries in Europe share the same political and economic concerns.
Rustam Roy, England (ex-India)

Why are we asking this question? Its not as if our views count for anything.
Stuart, UK

History has taught us that EU countries always have differing views, and many such views have led to war. As a race we are millennia from co-existing happily. It may only have a chance when all countries agree to elect governments able to govern for decades at a time, until then all politicians have their own agenda and only have a short term view.
Matt, Germany

As Gisella Stuart, the Labour MP who was involved in the drafting of the Constitution Document, said "No-one has yet bothered to ask if it is (a) necessary, and (b) whether the people of Europe actually want it.
A large number of the other countries in the rest of Europe are going to have a vote, so why not the United Kingdom?
I believe that in the UK, this issue is going to cause all sorts of ill-feeling towards our nanny-state government. The top people are only interesting in tying up a nice, cosy Eurocrat roles for themselves when they lose their seats as MP's.
Richard, Hampton, UK<




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