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Last Updated: Tuesday, 6 April, 2004, 09:12 GMT 10:12 UK
Can Europe agree on a new constitution?
EU leaders have ended their meeting in Brussels with an agreement on a mid-June deadline to broker a deal on a constitution for Europe.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair has welcomed the agreement although he said that he was not prepared to give away British controls on key policies like tax, defence and criminal justice.

But the Conservatives claim that the document would create an EU superstate and want voters to use the European elections in June to air their views on the issue.

Can Europe agree on a new constitution? Should there be a referendum?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.


The following comments reflect the balance of the opinions we have received:

The EU has spread democracy, freedom and prosperity to an degree unparalleled elsewhere in the world
Jon E, France
Europe needs a complex constitution, and it needs a lot of bureaucracy - how else do you preserve national identity and sovereignty, in such an increasingly diverse club of nations? Despite this, and above the constant whine of detractors, the EU has spread democracy, freedom and prosperity to an degree unparalleled elsewhere in the world, and certainly not seen within the US neighbourhood. Good luck with your Green Card Calum Steen, UK (below); I hope you get one.
Jon E, France

Even supporters of a federal Europe would not support the 250 pages of by-the-bureaucrats, for-the-bureaucrats rubbish that is the draft EU constitution. No wonder Blair has rejected a referendum!
George, Durham, UK

Do the people of Europe get to have any input into what is put into this constitution? Does it guarantee gay rights and women's rights? I would hope that the people would be able to discuss this, before it gets foisted on them as a fait accompli.
Sophie, Australia

Beware! If the Tory press are brainwashing you against this, then it must therefore be beneficial to you! Let's get straight in, as fast as possible, no referendum. Let's have some rights for goodness' sake.
Andrew M, Walsall, UK

The sooner we get out of Europe, the better
Lianne, Cannock,UK
The fact is that we are all completely different countries with completely different cultures, economies and beliefs. Any kind of trying to bring them together as one is not going to work... we are already seeing this with the Euro. The sooner we get out of Europe, the better.
Lianne, Cannock,UK

As long as we are fighting with words over words in a document, rather than with guns and bombs over territory, then the EU is fine with me. Let's not forget that the EEC was forged after the Second World War with the express intention (it's been in the foreword from the beginning) of preventing another European war, and since we are now living in the longest period of peace on mainland Europe since pretty much the beginning of time, it's doing it's job very well indeed.
Katherine, London, UK

There is no question about it - The EU needs streamlining and made to work more effectively, the constitution offers an opportunity to achieve these goals. I sometimes find the British psyche baffling. On the one hand we deplore the government's 'overly close' relationship with the United States and yet on the other we baulk at the thought of signing up to a European constitution that would bring us closer to our continental neighbours. Our political leaders are stuck between a rock and a hard place.
Matt, London, UK

A referendum would be rather like tossing a coin
John, France
UK already has a sort of 'referendum system' . Its called the free vote. I would like to see a cross party group set up to investigate the constitution and then present their findings to parliament and after discussion a free vote be taken. The plain fact is the average person in the UK has neither the time nor the expertise to study the constitution so a referendum would be rather like tossing a coin.
John, France

What has Blair to fear from a referendum? His failure to agree to one strongly suggests that he knows that he will lose.
John Atkins, Bridgwater, England

The Microsoft case should be a warning to us all about the future shape of Europe. I am not a big Bill Gates fan, but when an unelected body that drafts legislation can also act as prosecutor, judge and jury and impose a £300m fine which it then pockets for its own uses, we should realise that we're in BIG trouble. In all the haste to push through the "new Europe" we seem to be missing a few tricks on oversight - that's largely because our politicians signed up to the treaty of Rome without a public debate. Before we can agree a European constitution, it strikes me we have to go back and discuss the myriad of issues that we brushed over in the rush to sign away our rights.
Mike, London

In 1973, the UK was asked to vote on joining a trading block, and it was made clear that the EU was only that. We have subsequently moved closer and closer to a Federal Europe, and yet the public have had no say in this. Unfortunately, EU Countries do not share a common language or culture, and as such, any attempt to create a United States of Europe is doomed. The only plus is that Blair might resign and take a plum job within the EU sooner rather than later!
John C, Bath, England

I am constantly surprised by the apparently very strong anti-EU feeling which exists in the UK
Ian, Madrid, Spain
As a long term expat Brit based on the Continent, I am constantly surprised by the apparently very strong anti-EU feeling which exists in the UK, manifested by the constant moaning and groaning in the media about anything European. A referendum, preceded by an appropriate campaign to ensure that the public has access to the issues at stake, would at least provide an opportunity to show once and for all whether Britain is committed to being an integral part of the EU adventure, or would really rather stay on the sidelines forever.
Ian, Madrid, Spain

I doubt it! As one who has travelled throughout Europe and appreciates the culture, I think the political integration of the EU, in the short term, is going to be disastrous. I would like to see a unified Europe, but the sovereignty of individual countries will not be given up so easily. The major players - France, Germany, UK, and Belgium - are all going to be jockeying for position.
Jonathon Howard, USA

I, like so many, am tired and fed up of the ongoing EU debate. The EU only has a future as a "trading block" and nothing else. It is pure fantasy to believe that the EU can merge fully into an economic and social superstate. There are far too many issues which will act as major barriers to this. Language, defence, tax, history to just name a few. Please, Blair and co, realise that the EU is not at its dawn, but well into its evening. A referendum might just confirm its night time!
Ed Hollinshead, UK/currently US

Nope, as an American I look at this adventure and laugh. Europe is a place half the size of the USA and dominated by border disputes superpowers would laugh at. It is at the heart of western culture to perpetuate violence against one another, and that will never change. The strength of Europe is over.
Anonymous

The new constitution for Europe must leave some leeway for other states to join from 2007
Ian, Leamington Spa, England
The new constitution for Europe must leave some leeway for other states to join from 2007. These states could be regions or countries. In countries where more than one language is spoken and where regions have self-governing rights, but also pay taxes to central government and have a higher GNP and population than current country members, they will clamour to join. They will want to assert their democratic rights to be part of a strong and safe European community. The present debate is important - it must be for the future.
Ian, Leamington Spa, England

Just think, if we had been signed up to a European constitution before the Iraq war we might have been saved from Tony Blair and his personal war. However, I don't believe there should be a referendum because most of the papers and their corporate owners don't want to give up the powers given to them by successive British governments and would brainwash their readers into believing that it would be bad for this country.
J F M, LONDON, UK

Blair has no right to give away sovereign powers and to bind a succeeding elected government. Succeeding governments have always been able to undo laws previously passed. Under Blair's EU plan, he wants to permanently bind us into a new constitution, without even consulting the people. New Labour equals New Stalin, with utter contempt for democracy. Referendum first, then a constitution.
Richard, Oxofrd,UK

Isn't it bad enough to have one superpower
Alan, UK

It is a sobering thought that many good British men and women fought and died in the last war to prevent Britain being controlled by a dominant power in Europe. It seems that Tony Blair has forgotten that in his headlong rush to sign away our sovereignty.
Simon Walker, Ashford Kent

The EU has brought 50 years of relative peace and stability and the UK has benefited from that in a big way. Closer engagement with Europe is essential to continue the stability we've gained so much from. Roll on the Constitution!
Robert Bennett, Nantwich, Cheshire

Aram - New York. Isn't it bad enough to have one superpower, why would anyone want two?
Alan, UK

It was considered right that we should have a referendum to enter the common market in 1972. The new constitution will have an equal impact on the British people. If Bair fails to hold a referendum it can only be he fears the result.
Patrick, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK

I don't think Europe will agree on a useful constitution any time soon. It seems to me that various bureaucrats and career politicians are working for their own interests rather than that of the population. I also think that adding another layer of redundant government will not help the common man. What is needed in Europe is less government, fewer taxes, more education and more understanding. European nations need to become the equivalent of American stated for the EU to truly compete. That's highly unlikely to happen any time soon.
Gary Alles, New Hampshire, USA

I am not bothered about a referendum for the constitution - I want one asking if we really want or should remain in Europe. No one was more keen than I used to be but now? Let's quit and align up with those who really care about us before things get any worse.
Joseph, Bournemouth UK

Since when did a so called trading organisation need a constitution? Since it became a de facto federal state. Down with the EU.
Tom Eccles, Macclesfield, England

I would be wary of a document which is proposed by an unelected group of bureaucrats.
Michael, Philly, USA

There is no turning back once we set down the road of integration
Harry, UK

We want a referendum. Yes it works in the USA but in Europe we have very different cultures, history and social structures. If it ain't broke don't fix it and if you don't fully understand the proposed constitution, vote for the status quo. There is no turning back once we set down the road of integration.
Harry, UK

The whole idea of a constitution is against the very foundation of the nation state and that means Great Britain.
Daniel Sullivan, Hoboken USA

The Constitution debate is being blown out of all proportion by a xenophobic and ignorant tabloid media. They argue that it is an affront to sovereignty, but it simply not true. There are present deficiencies with the text, but rectifying such issues requires closer work by national governments rather than constantly attempting to protect national interests so to pander to the stupidity of the popular media. The irony is that many read these apocalyptic and incorrect predictions during their tea break at work...that they wouldn't necessarily have if it wasn't for the Commission. Idealistically a referendum would be good, but the ignorance of the tabloid papers would just lead to arguments being fought down jingoistic lines rather than promoting a intelligent debate over the pros and cons of adopting the text as it stands.
Chris , Durham, UK

I am an expat who has been living in Spain for over 30 years. I am afraid I can't see EU leaders agreeing on the new constitution, but I think each member state should have a referendum on this issue, in particular Spain (pushed into the euro with no popular consultation whatsoever) and Great Britain. Though it would probably be a good idea to have one on the euro first!
Barbara Hales, Avila, Spain

It doesn't matter what the people of Europe say, as the 'elite' of Europe will decide for them
William Galway, Ontario, Canada
It doesn't really matter what the people of Europe say, as the 'elite' of Europe will decide for them - and oddly enough that will put most power in the hands of the 'elite'. Inconvenient 'no' votes will be repeated until they get it right.
William Galway, Ontario, Canada

Wrong question! Why not ask 'Should any government be able to deny its people the chance to choose or reject an extra-nationally imposed constitution?' This has even more weight when one considers that no one in the UK, under the age of 47 has had a direct say on the matter and the last referendum was about free trade, not political union.
Giles Cowley, Herts, UK

If you actually look at what's proposed in this constitution, it's no big deal, most of it already applies in some other form. The issue seems to have been hijacked by the anti-Europe wreckers in the UK.
David, England

Look let's just get in (100% and no opt outs) and get it over with. There's no need for a referendum. We've never had a referendum for political decisions made by our elected leaders - even if they involved going to war. I'm sick of the little Englanders turning this into another one of their small minded anti-European crusades.
Simon Watkins, Newport, Wales, UK

The EU needs a new constitution now, without a referendum.
Marian Miskowski, Gdańsk, Poland

Just because one person has roots in several European countries and wants the EU Constitution to go through, does not mean that it's the right thing for everyone in every country. People of the EU should give plenty of thought to this before they do it and yes, there should be an EU-wide referendum. If any country does not get a majority in favour, then it fails.
Alyssa, UK

I do not think a country is mature enough to play a role in the EU if it still thinks in terms of us versus them. Europe can only survive if we work and think together as one whole. The EU at this moment still has its dark sides, but instead of working against it, it would be better to work together to improve it.
Pieter, Leuven, Belgium

The big misunderstanding here is that this "constitution" is NOT a constitution. A constitution states the most universal rules and rights, on which you base all legislation. The "European Constitution" is a book with hundreds of pages, containing very detailed information on how to do this and that. A compromise that went too far, where too many voices had to be heard. On the other hand it is the last chance for Europe to be run efficiently. Current rules simply fail with 25 member states.
Kristian, Brussels, Belgium

When we joined the EU in 1973 it was billed as an 'economic club'; freedom of movement of capital, labour etc... All of this has been achieved to everyone's benefit. Why are some people so keen to have a constitution? This move has but one ultimate aim - a European political union. What an unnecessary and disastrous result that would be!
Paul Farrell, Northampton

As a British citizen residing and working in another EU country I am a believer in a more "united" Europe for many reasons. The benefits are important and many and do not just fall on multinational companies/governments. For example anyone who has travelled in the EU can recognise real benefits from the introduction of the euro. And in theory a set of rules (constitution) is not a danger. Unfortunately a number of EU countries (including some of the bigger older ones!) presently have in their own constitutions unsatisfactory democratic/representation rules and too much concentration of power in too few hands and they are, therefore, quite happy to repeat this situation at an EU level.
Sloan, Paris,France

A vote on the constitution would be a clear democratic way of expressing the views of the country
John K, Liverpool

The British must make their minds up once and for all, if we are British or European. A vote on the constitution would be a clear democratic way of expressing the views of the country. I fear it will not happen because it will be a resounding vote against the movement towards a perceived Franco-Germanic European Federal State not a Common Market based on free trade that the public were first sold.
John K, Liverpool

If Europe unites on brokering a new constitution, what place do the royal family have in all this? Surely they are now rendered obsolete and merely a financial burden on the taxpayers and isn't it time to retire them to the country?
Kaye, Barrie Canada

No, in my view it is a lot of political will in favour of the big countries. Countries such as Portugal will have no say, and at the end we have politicians who were not invested by the people taking decisions which could affect our future forever. We cannot loose our identity for the benefits of politicians.
Adriano Graca, Cascais - Portugal.

So the time has come - is the UK to become part of "Oceania" or part of "Eurasia"? At least being part of a united Europe may act as a counterbalance against a rapacious US intent on asset-stripping the rest of the World. When is the war with "Eastasia" start, I wonder?
Colin Campbell, Stockholm, Sweden

I am not sure what benefit that yet another overarching authority will bring us. It would seem to me that this closer union is mostly driven by people desiring greater power and it will probably cost us more in taxes. I do not think that the national layers will disappear. Secondly, I do not want the French and German governments dictating how we in Italy must live. There are far too many intrusive rulings from the EU already.
Giuseppe Romani, Rome, Italy

For a really united Europe all members have to make some sacrifice
Hans, Ankara, Turkey
Of course can! Europe is the leading continent of the democracy in the world. It has deep historical traditions on how to cope with such obstacles. For a really united Europe all members have to make some sacrifice and consume some effort. A united Europe eventually be prolific for our own interests as well as the whole world's. After the collapse of the Soviet Union we are unfortunately living in a mono-polar world. Somebody has to stand up and show Americans that they are not alone on this planet to act with such self confidence without asking the others what they think of. From now on it is our turn to give its direction to the world politics.
Hans, Ankara, Turkey

A referendum must be held, as the transfer of power from Britain to other authorities must be give only if the people decide it is the best thing. But then again, do we really need to agree to the European constitution? What is wrong with British law? Are we suddenly unable to govern ourselves? The British people do not have to give away their sovereignty to be part of Europe as some claim. Stay British!
Alex, UK

Apart from its authors, does anyone in the EU actually know what is in the new Constitution?
Bob Walters, Hereford UK

Apart from its authors, does anyone in the EU actually know what is in the new Constitution? Does anyone care? Whether we have a referendum or not, the least the government can do is to give us an unvarnished account of what is in it so that we can make an informed choice. At the moment, most people wouldn't know what they are voting for or against.
Bob Walters, Hereford UK

The strange thing about the call for a referendum in the UK on an EU constitution is that the UK has traditionally not relied on referenda to decide policy of any sort.
Skee Yagi, London, UK

The British people have been lied to and betrayed for the past 40 years over 'Europe' - a continuously moving target. Worse, the bulk of the British people have been disenfranchised by an arrogant, out of touch political class. Without a fair referendum (a Blair sleaze campaign is not good enough)the government of the UK and Europe will be seen as illegitimate by the majority of the population. The result, either apathy or rebellion, will be equally disastrous.
A Carney, Singapore

SUGGEST A DEBATE
This topic was suggested by James, Dorset
What is your reaction to the possible European constitution?

There should be a referendum. However the result is irrelevant. Any constitution will not work since the actions in the past show that countries will happily accept a constitution until it doesn't do what they want. France in particular has shown that whenever European regulation is against them they simply choose to ignore it - the rules are there for everyone else!
John, UK

The trouble is that the UK itself needs a written referendum with proper checks and balances. Then there would be a clear limit on the power of the PM to effect constitutional changes without a referendum. Blair clearly believes he can do whatever he likes on his own personal whim. That's why he wants a House of Lords made up of appointed yes-men to make getting his own way just a bit easier.
Merlin Cox, London, UK

It seems to me that a constitution would just divide Europe further
Arianne, Berkeley, CA, USA

After hearing over and over again about Europeans struggling to create a new constitution, I still do not understand what the point of it would be. It seems to me that a constitution would just divide Europe further apart by exposing each country's obvious differences. There would be no advantage whatsoever.
Arianne, Berkeley, CA, USA

Why does Tony want to sign up to Europe, to fill his ego of becoming President of the European Superstate. That's the only reason for him selling GB down the river.
Jez, Sheffield

Yes Europe surely can and will agree. If national parliaments are happy with the draft constitution, a referendum is not necessary and not helpful.
Erik, Heerhugowaard, Netherlands

Whatever the new EU constitution looks like, I hope that people of the UK, whom I respect the most in the EU, and whose country has historically enviable ties with the US, are able to maintain their sovereignty, for example in immigration policies.
Ife, Champaign USA

Governments are inevitably more considerate toward regions located near to the power base
Ray Gray, London, England

Governments are inevitably more considerate toward regions located near to the power base. Each time power is shifted towards Brussels, the UK's needs become less important to the policymakers. A European constitution will be a one-size-fits-all rulebook. When policies fail to work in a given locality (e.g. the U.K.), any complaints will be automatically rejected, and the justification will be "it's for the greater good." Even when it isn't.
Ray Gray, London, England

Europe cannot agree on anything! End of story. This constitution removes the need for agreement, by removing the right of individual nations and peoples to have a say in their democracy. It is abhorrent and an insult to those who fought and died for our right to rule ourselves!
Paul Sealey, Cannock, England

Personally I wouldn't hold any referendum over anything to do with the EU
Adam, Stoke, England

With the exception of the UK, without a doubt. United States of Europe? History has shown that all through time smaller tribes and nations unite to form bigger ones. Referendum in the UK? Personally I wouldn't hold any referendum over anything to do with the EU in the UK where the public are being severely mislead by the North-American owned tabloid press.
Adam, Stoke, England

Since the government in Spain has changed and Poland gave some cooperative signals to Germany and France, it is very possible to agree on a new constitution this time. Another advantage is the Irish Presidency seems to produce new solutions to the conflict occurred among member states, such as offering 55% for the qualifying majority voting.
Ismail Hosoglu, Linkoping, Sweden

Why do so many people talk about being British and being European like they're mutually exclusive? It's easily possible to be both!
Joe, UK

How can we have a referendum when no-one has actually been told what the content of this document is? I suspect a proper constitution for citizens (rather than subjects of a crown) would probably be 'a good thing'. It has nothing whatsoever to do with being 'British', 'French', 'German' or all the other quaint cultural quirks.
David Paul Morgan, Cardiff, UK

The EU is not like the USA, where different states are more culturally similar. Different countries need to be ruled differently to a certain extent and this EU constitution can undermine that freedom.
Keith San, London, UK

Tony Blair has no right to make this sort of massive constitutional change without consent from the people, in the form of a referendum. The only reason Tony Blair doesn't want one is that he'd know he'd lose. I believe that we don't need this constitution. All it does is bring more things under EU control, and lock us into the EU forever.
Chris, England, UK

Europe must unite over what we have in common. The world is a dangerous place and has become unbalanced by the US view that they are responsible for the world's morals. If the world is to survive America's domination, then Europe must be united to find the balance.
Martin Parkes, Hemel Hempstead, UK

Blair's opposition to a referendum simply highlights the anti-democratic nature of the consensus underlying the entire European project -- that the venture is much too profound, much too important to be wrecked by a volatile, immature and emotional electorate.
Nick Keen, US/UK

Of course Europe should have an agreed constitution, but then again so should Britain, and we don't, at least not a written one people can refer to. I think the EU constitution should tackle the disgraceful waste of farm subsidies, preferably by abolishing them.
George, Surrey

It's time to ask ourselves whether we really want to be part of the EU or not. As this country is a net contributor, what do we gain from being a member? Let us just say yes to free trade (the reason the EEC was set up in the first place), but no to political integration.
Chris, Luton, UK

Only when the mismanagement and corruption in the EU is dealt with can we even begin to address issues like a constitution
Paul B, Oxford, UK

If the EU were a PLC, its directors would probably be in jail, or at least barred from holding office, after years and years of auditors refusing to sign off the accounts. It is only when the mismanagement and corruption in the EU is dealt with can we even begin to address issues like a constitution and drawing member states more closely together.
Paul B, Oxford, UK

Why can't we leave things as they are? Isn't it a good thing to retain some aspects of out individual cultures? These constant and meaningless debates just waste money.
James, Dorset, UK

A referendum on the European Constitution means another national vote - this in a Country that cannot even get large numbers out for its own General Election. This referendum call is just another attempt to undermine Tony Blair.
Keith Grant, London

A constitution that daren't be put to the people, for fear they will throw it out, has no legitimacy.
Roger, Newmarket, UK

EU agreement is something that's beneficial for the UK
IH, Manchester

I wish the old labour left would keep quiet for once! We voted in New Labour for that reason - New thinking and a New progressive way forward. Can't they see all that they're doing is helping the Tory party gain ground? EU agreement is something that's beneficial for the UK as a whole - most large companies already work on a Europe wide scale - it's only the scaremongerers that say they aren't.
IH, Manchester

A very dangerous turn of events. The EU will never work, it was hard enough with the original number of countries but expanding to 25 is a recipe for disaster....and at what cost? £45 billion a year we spend on it at the moment, how much will this rise and what do we get in return. There is no mention anywhere of the constitution's ban on political parties that disagree with some of the EU treaties. Sounds like a dictatorial stitch up to me and totally undemocratic especially as Blair won't give us a vote on it.
Barry, UK

We have for a long time put up with the artificial state called the UK, and it is time we took away the powers of Westminster and its bloated civil service and transferred the powers down to the constituent countries (England, Scotland, the Principality of Wales, and northern Ireland) and up to the European level. We have to remember that the EU has less bureaucrats than the average London borough, but we need to ensure that the power goes to the European Commission and Parliament and not to the Council of Ministers - or else democracy will be stifled by the Westminster type power-brokers from all the major states.
Richard, London, England

As long as some members of the European Union have an eye on the transfer of sovereignty to the continent, others with a built-in pride in their history will keep resisting. I see no day in sight when this wll wane away.
Oliver B. Albino, Portland, MAINE, USA

Something of this magnitude has to be put to the people. History has shown that superstates do not work - the former Soviet Union, the former Yugoslavia and the former Czechoslovakia are testament to this. Even the United States, the example the pro-Europeans use to show it can work, was only saved under Lincoln with the loss of 600,000 lives. Even then the fledgling United States had the advantage of speaking a single language, something which Europe has never had and probably never will have. As they say in France, vive la difference.
John B, UK

It seems that differences that divided nations of Europe and the general lust for power of each member state are preventing Europe from reaching the agreement. Common policy on some issues is vital, as the world apparently needs some sort of balance. For that we need some sort of document to which all member states must turn in times of need. These times are here and ahead of us, so I believe that Europe will finally find the will to accept the constitution.
Klemen, Slovenia

A new EU constitution? That'll be yet another increase in tax to pay for all the pen-pushers then! Oh, for a Green Card...
Calum Steen, UK

Tony Blair's judgement has proved wrong in the past and we have been wrong to trust in his judgement. This is why there should be a referendum on the matter of the constitution, and precisely why we won't get one.
Mark, London

I am being denied my right to a debate over the draft constitution because the media are only interested in whether there is a referendum not in telling us what it says in the draft. Only when we know what is in the final draft can I comment on whether there should be a referendum. Let's have a debate about the content now we can debate referenda when we have the facts.
Nick, Swindon, UK

If the EU constitution is as harmless and good for Britain as the Government claims what has it to fear from a referendum?
Stewart Vassie, Kent

We don't need a referendum because it won't affect our lives directly
Chris, London

Europe needs a new constitution to make decisions more quickly and fairly. We don't need a referendum because it won't affect our lives directly, it should only be to cut out the long delays and paper work. The Tories are trying to take us out of the EU and that will affect our lives.
Chris, London, UK

As a German citizen with Greek, Swedish, Armenian and German roots having grown up in Belgium I can only say that it's time for all Europeans to put aside their fears and go ahead with this constitution. Europe needs determined leadership that can tackle decisions in a way that transcends today's national boundaries. Let's go ahead and break those boundaries down and build a European Union that can once and for all counterbalance the US as the sole superpower in the world today.
Aram, New York, NY

I am certain we should have a referendum but only ONE, not like the Irish who had a second one to "get the right result". It is time for the people to have their say on such a momentous thing. Either we want to be Europeans or we want to be British. Blair must take the first answer!
Stuart, Kent, UK

In the UK we have lived in a federation for a very long time (England, Scotland, Wales, N. Ireland). Is it not the case that the United Kingdom is a very good example of how several countries can work together on common issues and yet have power over their own region? I don't see the Scottish nation being any less Scottish that they used to be. So why should the UK be any different in identity by becoming a more integral part of Europe?
John Stevenson, London

Why don't we take this opportunity to help shape this constitution to our advantage?
Elise, Cambridge
Why are people so afraid of a European constitution? Why are there references to 'rule by foreign powers'? We are already European so how can the constitution be foreign to us? Instead of being negative, why don't we take this opportunity to help shape this constitution to our advantage?
Elise, Cambridge

To Elise of Cambridge. Before you TELL me that I am a European, I suggest you consult me first. I refuse to be ordered to be a European. I was not born European and I do not remember asking to become one. As for this so called constitution I suggest that as has been shown time and time again, it will not be worth the paper it is written on once it no longer suits Paris and Berlin.
Greg, UK In NL

It seems as if the time is coming for the UK to either cast its lot with Europe, or the US. To stay in the middle, with a foot in each camp while playing the role of buffer between both could be very uncomfortable. A decision of this magnitude needs to be made by the people for the people.
M. Clark, UK/US

I am sure the EU will do a fine job. Why not use the US Constitution as a model? Ours has been working nicely for 250 years!
Kim Righetti, Upland, Calif

Europe will agree on a new constitution only when ALL sides of the discourse admit, that these rules, that have been proposed after Nice by the larger countries are not fair to new EU members.
Maciek, Krakow

The EU was supposed to be a trading block in which powers were pooled, and agreements made for the common good of its members. Why does such a body need a constitution?
Richard, Chichester, UK

Eventually, yes, of course they will agree. Why all the negativity surrounding this? It is quite simple, either they sort out the constitution or the EU will implode through lack of a decision making process.
Barry Lowry, Hornchurch, UK

Why should the people lend it their support when they aren't even going to be seriously consulted about its future?
Rob, Yorkshire, England
It matters little whether the EU comes up with a "constitution" or not. In the long run the EU, this corrupt, ill-managed gravy-train for bureaucrats and dreaming utopians will crumble to dust - because it is devoid of real support from the people. And why should the people lend it their support when they aren't even going to be seriously consulted about its future?
Rob, Yorkshire, England

Why the sudden rush to have a deal done and dusted by June? If you think about it, it's obvious, Blair's planning his next career move since it is unlikely that he'll be PM for much longer, Even he must realise that his changes to the House of Lords have put a seat there out of his reach, thus he's set his sights firmly on the EU Presidency.
Colin, Swanscombe

It all depends on whether we want a democratic Europe. I think there's a lot to be said for a United States of Europe, but it can only work if it's set up on a democratic basis. That means the people of Europe have to vote to adopt the constitution, and have to be asked to vote whenever it is to be changed. And it means we need to have European elections where the outcome actually matters.
Phil, Oxford, UK

I am sure the leaders will manage to agree among themselves, but sovereignty lies with the people. If Blair railroads this through without a referendum, the consequences - in terms of faith in our leaders, and participation in domestic politics and elections, will be very serious. And Labour will find itself condemned as the party that sold the people out to the multinationals and to Brussels.
David (now ex-Labour member), London, UK

European leaders probably can agree on a new constitution for the EU - though the document will no doubt be bloated, compromised and riddled with doublespeak. Far more important is the question of whether Mr Blair has the authority to force upon us a constitution which binds us under the laws of a foreign power. The answer of course is no - particularly when he intends to do so without the express consent of a referendum.
Philip Moore, London, UK

Either we give up sovereignty or we don't
Tony, Welling, Kent
The principals of signing up to the Eurpean Community is that countries must be democratic, have good human rights and sign up to the existing Treaty of Amsterdam, which supersedes the Treaty of Rome signed I think in 1954. Part of this included the Single European Act which was the act signed At Maastricht. In other words the protocols of the European Union are in place. The constitution can only be signed in its entirety with implication on sovereignty or it cannot be signed by countries at all. The corollary is that devolved powers can only be given by individual countries to Europe dependant upon their laws. The significance is simple. There can be no opt outs and no opt ins. Either we give up sovereignty or we don't. It is therefore clear that there must be a referendum because Tony Blair does not have a mandate to sign away his people's sovereignty and he is answerable to the people for his policies! This must go to a referendum for all countries. Only then can Europe have the legitimacy if it wins.
Tony, Welling, Kent

In order to expand, EU negotiators unfairly made inequitable parliamentary voting concessions to Poland and Spain, concessions which swayed the populations of those nations to ratify the treaty. Now the EU would take back some or all of those concessions so either the people of Spain and Poland were deceived or the rest of the EU was taken unfair advantage of. That's what happens when an all powerful, unelected, corrupt bureaucracy takes control and the political ends justify the means. What could they possibly say about anything anymore that anyone would believe?
Mark, USA

A referendum was held in Ireland some time back and an EU policy was rejected outright. End result: the Irish Government were told to stage another referendum but this time to "GET THE RIGHT RESULT!" The second referendum (held within a few months of the first) passed through the policy. The idea of a referendum in the UK on this basis would be meaningless. This Constitution will probably come in and to the benefit (only) of the government and multinational companies.
Pat, Ilford, UK





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