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Last Updated: Friday, 18 June, 2004, 13:42 GMT 14:42 UK
Will the EU Constitution benefit Britain?
Crowds at the European Parliament
European leaders are meeting for a second day at the EU talks in Brussels.

Earlier this week Prime Minister Tony Blair has dismissed calls from opposition MPs to reject the proposed European Constitution.

Mr Blair believes that Britain should stay at the centre of European decision making and not become marginalised.

He accused Tory leader Michael Howard of running towards the UK Independence Party "shouting 'me too'".

However, negotiations over the constitution have been marked by disagreements between EU leaders.

French President Jacques Chirac accused Tony Blair of trying to water down the constitution, while UK officials have warned leaders not to "play games" at the summit in Brussels.

How strong do you think the 'no' vote is in the UK? Will the EU constitution be good for Britain? Do you think the UK should pull out of Europe all together?

The following comments reflect the balance of opinion we have received so far.

To the Little Englanders who don't want to be part of the largest free trade zone in the world: if we're in the EU we can influence it. If we're outside the EU we still have to abide by all its rules to be able to trade, but have no say in what those rules are. Being part of the EU and signing the constitution is therefore in Britain's interest.
Rod, UK

In economic terms Europe is heading for the scrapheap. Indeed, it could be said that it is there already. Just look at the terrible economic malaise in France and Germany. Europe needs to change in order to avoid being left behind by the US and China and if Europe refuses to undergo huge economic changes then Britain should turn her back on a project which can only end in failure. This misconception that Britain cannot do without the EU is preposterous. As it stands the EU is holding us back. I'm all for European Union, provided it works for the economic interests of all countries. As someone else on this forum stated, we live in a global community and that's why we shouldn't wish to be part of a Europe that spends all it's time looking in instead of engaging with the rest of the world.
William Wilson, Stranraer, Scotland

If you keep on holding a separatist position you'll be happily left apart
Silvia Iranzo, Spain
I am afraid most British Eurosceptics are stuck in history. If you keep on holding a separatist position you'll be happily left apart. Will you then want the benefits of trade? Europe is not the opposite to Britain, it is a broader entity that comprises all European identities. Don't feel your identity is threatened. You are as British as you were before but, I guess you are a very traditional nation and need a lot longer to get into the idea of change.
Silvia Iranzo, Spain

In the UK workers have regularly been at the mercy of unscrupulous employers. Workers rights seem better protected whilst we are in the EU. My concerns are that a withdrawal from Europe would see us becoming the sweatshop.
Tim, Glasgow

Although English, I work in Brussels, at the very heart of EuroLand and get to see some of the lunacy first-hand. Do they want a Federal United States of Europe? You bet your boots they do! Consider Norway and Switzerland, not part of the EU but happily trading with it. Anyone notice any signs of massed panic amongst the (sensible) Norwegians and Swiss lately? Seen any big demonstrations in Oslo or Stavanger, Geneva or Zurich? Big banners reading 'Please Let Us In'? No? Me neither.
Stephen, Brussels, Belgium

The Government say that they need to start the 'yes' campaign now so that we (the general public) get used to the idea before the referendum. In other words, they will have a year to brainwash us into thinking that there is no alternative.
Alastair, Taunton, UK

We live in a global community and I believe we should work together with our neighbours
Mark, London
Why do British people always think we are being attacked? Saying that we will not surrender to the EU. We are a part of the EU. The EU will become a world power; I believe far stronger then the US and will continue to be so until it is surpassed by the Chinese. We live in a global community and I believe we should work together with our neighbours and together we will become stronger, richer in monetary and cultural terms to say the least.
Mark, London

Why is it that people who are against a stronger EU are called 'Little Englanders'? In these days of global markets and economies I think the 'Little Europeans' who crave more rules, protectionism, and regulation are the small minded ones. By far the bulk of Britain's international trade is with the rest of the world, would you ignore your biggest customers in favour of a fussy medium-sized one? It's time the EU realised that it should be a trading bloc, not a block to trade. If it doesn't then this 'Little Englander' will vote to move on rather than be held back!
David Croney, Chelmsford, Essex

I hope that Britain does sign but fear she will not. I wonder if there will be enough time for me to use my EU citizenship and emigrate to Germany, where, in 10 years time, I can still enjoy all the benefits of European wealth while watching Britain struggle to make ends meet. Britain has to stay in Europe to survive.
Helen, Colchester UK

I will certainly vote no to both the Euro and the proposed European Constitution
Steve, Worcester, England
I am fed up with the lies with respect the amount of trade we do with Europe and the pound being too strong. Firstly, we do no more than 37% of our trade with Europe and the pound has been virtually unchanged against all world currencies over the past 10 years. This only proves that it is the Euro that is weak not the pound being strong. I was pro-European once but with the constant peddling of lies and unsubstantiated statistics then I will certainly vote no to both the Euro and the proposed European Constitution.
Steve, Worcester, England

Will the EU Constitution benefit Britain? I can't tell to be honest. On the one hand we have the anti-European parties and media feeding us fear about how we will lose our national identity, surrender our culture to Brussels, and be flooded by immigrants. But on the other hand, we have the pro-Europeans saying we should blindly sign in, as it is inevitable. I think it's about time that we had a national debate about the whole thing, outlining the facts about the whole thing, rather than "facts" based on fear-mongering and blind support. That way, the majority of us who know nothing about the EU constitution can make up our own minds!
James, Dunstable

Depends what it says and whether the rest of Europe treats it as a binding treaty or another piece of paper they can ignore when it suits them.
Richard, Southampton

I would have thought that any Eurosceptic would welcome a constitution that finally identifies the role of the European Union. This would have the added dimension of setting limits to integration. The EU desperately needs a constitution to end the uncontrollable dynamics of integration that are currently prevalent in Brussels and threatened to unite us into a political union.
Marc Snaith, Sheffield

Let's stop being stubborn and take a step forward rather than backwards
Laurence, Bristol, U
The EU is the largest economic block in the world and will one day be the most influential political block. The future of Europe does not lie with national interest but with international cooperation. Let's stop being stubborn and take a step forward rather than backwards.
Laurence, Bristol, UK

As a fellow European I would like to make the point that being opposed to the constitution does not necessarily imply that one feels superior to other European countries. I myself oppose the constitution for it is the beginning of a federal Europe where cultural difference does not seem to matter. Most affairs can be best tackled at home without the European bureaucracy. This is the reason for saying no to the constitution, not because I feel superior to others.
Tom, Netherlands

What is this obsession that so many people have with France and Germany? Do they think that all other countries in the EU are just happily buckling under? Is Italy losing its unique culture? Is Spain? Are we so insecure about our national identity? Are we frightened that if we take on France or Germany then what - we automatically will lose? How about getting in there and making our voices heard? How about making Europe work for us instead of constantly whining?
Katherine, London, UK

Mr Blair has never explained how not signing up to the constitution will marginalise us? I think what he means that the French and Germans won't talk to him - but then they have never given much indication of listening to what we say. In the referendum on joining the ECC I voted in favour of an European Economic Community, I am still in favour of that, but European Union, NEVER.
Barry Mellish, Bromley, England

Some Britons seem to live in a fantasy world where we can exit the EU and immediately renegotiate all current agreements on a bilateral basis and on terms more favourable to the UK. I hope Blair will not scupper the EU constitution for the sake of these fantasists.
Andrew Smith, Epsom, UK

We hear a good deal about 'red lines' on tax and defence and now there is a new euphemism called 'emergency brakes' for Justice and Home Affairs and Social Security, which I presume to mean something short of maintaining a veto. I suspect that many people will have heard of the Red Lines, but what of the twenty policy areas in which the Government is happy to cede democratic control to Brussels. Could we be told what they are and repeat it as often as they tell us about the Red Lines? Or would that be too fair and balanced?
Anon, UK

There does seem to be a lot of opposition to EU constitution. However I believe this is mainly down to the fact that the media highlights the disadvantages. Very little is published about the huge benefits that membership of the EU brings. If this is corrected then I'm sure more people would support the EU.
T Knight,

Nothing should be signed until we have had a referendum. The choice should be made by the British people, not some reckless politician. It is our 'rights' he is dealing with, not his place in history!
Ray, London, England

If the constitution is good enough for the other 24 countries then it should be good enough for us
Paul Phillips, Knutsford, UK
We should embrace Europe. If the constitution is good enough for the other 24 countries then it should be good enough for us. I believe that deep down, all Euro sceptics believe that we in the UK are superior to our European cousins. We are not superior and we can learn a lot from our European neighbours. What is the alternative - go American style, enjoy only 2 weeks annual holiday and suffer the consequences of full-blown capitalism.
Paul Phillips, Knutsford, UK

Even the Government, while claiming it has maintained their "red lines", agrees that it has surrendered veto powers in twenty areas. However, the government has been unable to claim any benefits for the UK from their surrender of these vetoes. I say No to this "constitution" - No to the instrument of surrender.
BF, London, England

A native Frenchman/woman) is not worried about his/her identity. He drives a French car, He eats home grown fruits and vegetables, he drinks French wine, he often sees a French film and usually have his summer holiday in France. His/her identity is here and now. A native Briton is worried, he eats curry, drives a Japanese car, goes to Spain for holiday and watches American Movies. He clings to the collective saga of a war fought sixty years ago.
P, Orpington, UK

I think the 'no vote' is strong. There are people who say, "let's not make more out of the UKIP success than it really is because they only won approx. 1 out of 10 voters". Well Labour only won approx. 2 out of 10 and people weren't only voting for Labour because they wanted to stay in Europe. Whereas everyone who voted for UKIP only did so, to show the government that we do not want to sign up to a EU constitution. It is not necessary. The EU has been fine for the last 60 years without one.
Matt, London, UK

We are part of Europe and should be at the heart of it, and not on the edge. We have been for many years struggling on being a member and because of our old fashion stick in the mud ways. We have little show for it, while mainland Europe is leaving us behind. UKIP are like the "Dads Army Of Europe". Those days are long past. It's the young who will lead us in to Europe and to greater success.
Clive, Dartford,UK

I think it is essential that we do not sign up to this constitution and given a referendum, I shall vote against it whatever it says. We were only ever asked to sign up to a free trade zone in respect of geographical Europe, and that is all that is necessary now as it was back in the 70s. I am in favour (if it was possible and I doubt it is) to suspend membership and the 1.5M per hour subscription to the EU that we make and then renegotiate membership on a much reduced tariff for the purposes of maintaining mutual free trade.
Chris Green, Hagley, Worcs. England.

I think the no vote is strong but the reason for this is ignorance. People do not understand what the EU constitution is all about and the media don't help as they see it as being too complicated to explain. It is easier for people to criticise than it is for them to write positive articles on the EU. Chris Patten once said that the problems with the EU are that it is boring therefore no one takes an interest in it. Personally I feel that we have a lot to gain from the EU and signing the constitution would not weaken us as a nation..
Niamh Conroy, Stoke-on-Trent, UK

Britain should decide how she is run without outside influence
Kevin D, Eastbourne, UK
No Britain should not sign the constitution as it would be a bad move for this great nation. I believe it is all about France and Germany wanting to control everybody through back door measures as they failed in there military overtures towards this country in the previous couple of hundred years. Britain and only Britain should decide how she is run without outside influence from any other country.
Kevin D, Eastbourne, UK

The UK should not pull out of Europe. The EU is far better than with countries being at war every few years. It is understandable that some people in the UK do not want to be in Europe but if the vote for UKIP represents the proportion of the electorate strongly opposed to the EU this is only about 7% of the electorate.(17% proportion of votes cast but only 40% of the electorate feeling the issue significant enough to vote). The main parties should not be deflected from the objective of the UK being an active part of the EU.
Ed Smith, Nottingham UK

I think the recent elections speak volumes for contempt with which Mr Blair treats the UK voter. He doesn't care what this forum or the voter thinks and if page 53 of the 'Idiots guide to being a Prime Minister' says sign the constitution, then he probably will. Roll on a general election!
Steve, Edinburgh

The EU is a socialist-minded, centralising, authoritarian state
Hazel, Manchester, England
Both myself and my husband, and most of our friends are sick of the EU meddling in what should be our own affairs. 'Don't smack!', 'Don't smoke!', 'Don't drive your car!', Don't express worries over mass immigration!', and so on. The EU is a socialist-minded, centralising, authoritarian state. The way it preaches to us and threatens 'heretics' who question its PC views reminds me of the Spanish Inquisition! It goes against everything English and I will vote for any party which promises to withdraw.
Hazel, Manchester, England

No of course we shouldn't pull out. It would be madness. Apart from anything else it would mean the end of cheap booze-runs from France!! The constitution is a different matter though, and we should be very careful what we agree to.
Richie, UK

Sign it fast! It's time Britain moved forward from the 1940s. Europe seems to do everything better than us, why should we be held back?
Andrew M, Walsall, UK

Closer union is inevitable. It's not a question of if - but when
Andy, London, UK
If we don't sign up now, we will in the future. If the current generation are so backward that they can't realise the benefits of closer EU integration then our children will. Mr Kilroy Silk: closer union is inevitable. It's not a question of if - but when.
Andy, London, UK

Blair should not sign up to a constitution without a referendum. The UK originally voted for a common market trade agreement, not for a European superstate. Voters born between 1954 and 1986 have been unable to have a say in the matter.
Dave Hough, Nottingham UK

I am pro Europe, I even would like to see a "United States of Europe" so in principle would like to see a written constitution. That said if the proposed constitution is more than about 4 sides of A4 and written in anything other than plain English I will vote against it. A constitution only needs to cover the basics like human rights, access to a fair justice system, equal opportunity etc and of course the right to live in a democracy and have one man one vote in a secret ballot. It should not involve issues like defence, taxation etc and it should not be written in legal jargon which most people cannot understand. It should be a relatively simple document to write. If the EU bloated bureaucracy is on overdrive, I will almost certainly vote against it, despite wanting a constitution in principle.
Roger, UK

We want to trade with Europe, not be ruled by it
Sue Hudson, London, UK
I think the "No" vote is very strong in the UK - we want to trade with Europe, not be ruled by it. Unfortunately, all the political parties, apart from UKIP and some members of the Conservatives, seem to want to surrender to a European dictatorship. It would seem that what two world wars didn't achieve is being done very nicely now!
Sue Hudson, London, UK

I believe we should definitely vote 'no' on a constitution. The EU has enough power over us already. I for one do not want Britain to become part of a European Superstate. I think pulling out of the EU is the only viable option.
Christian, UK

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EU constitution battle stepped up
16 Jun 04  |  Politics


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