Friday, May 27, 2005

Untold Consequences Outside the E.U. of a 'NO' Vote

Here's an interesting point of view on a 'NO' vote to the European Constitutional Treaty (a topic we have largely discussed on this blog) and its possible consequences in other parts of the world. This comes from The Herald Tribune.

Much less attention has been paid to the substantial effects of a "no" on partners and issues lying outside the EU framework.
Since the most obvious consequence of the constitution's rejection would be to plunge the EU into a protracted period of institutional and political introspection, Europe's partners would no longer be able to count on the same level of European commitment.
This would be bad news for ventures relying to any significant extent on European support, like the
Middle East peace process or Western efforts to limit the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

Efforts to prevent or limit violent conflict in Africa would suffer particularly, given Europe's key role in this regard. In other cases, this lower European profile may be greeted with relief: For instance, the United States would presumably have less cause to worry about the lifting of the EU arms embargo on China, an initiative that would presumably be put on the back burner.

It is in the Balkans that a "no" could have inordinately baleful consequences. The long-term prospect of EU membership is the most powerful lever that the Europeans have at their disposal to promote the political and economic transformation of societies still bearing the scars of the wars and civil strife of the 1990s.

The EU, NATO and the United Nations have until now introduced a modicum of stability in the region, in the face of severe deprivation and large-scale crime. The sudden removal of the beacon of EU membership through a French "no" would plunge much of the area into a pit of despair from which nothing good could emerge.


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