… in fine, we can say on the 6 th of October that, because of the probable positive report on Turkey, the Commission will be responsible for “killing” the project that was the European Constitution. The ultimate irony being that Turkey will still not enter the European Union for decades to come!
Initially the title of this text written a few weeks before the decision of the European Commission bore a “?“. On October 6, 2004, doubt was no longer allowed, and the “?” could be withdrawn, the European Commission recommended the Union to start negotiations for Turkey’s accession: “The Commission’s response today is that of a YES. A positive response on meeting the criteria, and a positive recommendation on the opening of negotiations.” (Speech by Romano Prodi on the candidacy of Turkey (Brussels, 6 October 2004) – source: CVCE). It had indeed torpedoed the adoption of the future European Constitution, as would prove the results of the referendums organized in 2005 in different member-states.
∴ The 6th of October 2004 : The Day that the European Commission Torpedoes the Future Constitution -Franck Biancheri (21/09/2004)
On this coming 6th of October, the European Commission will announce its verdict as to the ability of Turkey to begin accession negotiations with the European Union. I have already on several occasions and in this very column explained that an affirmation to the Turkish question (even if accompanied by a “but” which in and of itself would not impact the outcome of the decision in a substantial manner) on behalf of the Commission would lead to a quasi-identical “yes, but” on behalf of the European Council in December which in turn would translate into a “no” vote by the people in the upcoming referenda on the European Constitution.
Only several months ago, it appeared that on the continent optimism was king and that the « yes » vote for the Constitution would win the referenda. However, this sentiment is rapidly changing and today, taking France as an example, the “no” vote seems quite able to win the day.
Concurrently, the majority of those who denied just recently that the Turkish question was important to European citizens and that it could indeed have an impact on their votes in the referenda have woken up from their dreams and as a result must now acknowledge the following:
- the Turkish question is a major concern among Europeans
- a “yes” to Turkey will automatically translate into a landslide victory for the “no” to the Constitution party (where as the “yes” party will not carry any country)
You probably would like to ask why I place the blame on the Commission? Isnt’it once again, using the Commission as the scapegoat for the political decisions of the EU as a whole. For once, maybe our political leaders should assume the responsibility for their own choices!
Granted, the Commission is, at least in the Turkish case, the instrument of a process launched in an era (the 1960’s) and in a world (consumed by the Cold War) that no longer exist, but the Commission is nonetheless in charge of preserving the ‘Community’s interest’. As such, the Commission has an honest claim to the statement that it is simply following through with a decision made some 40 years ago and thus it will adhere to this decision blindly (or maybe with a hidden political vision that has neither historical nor popular support, i.e. the EU as a “bridge between civilizations”) and evoke the famous “Copenhagen Criteria” so as to arrive at a “yes, but” for Turkey and thus a “no” to the Constitution.
Either, the Commission assumes its role as the protector of the best interests of the community and it accepts the current (and future) reality of European politics, as have numerous Commissioners in the past weeks, that politically the Commissions decisions is limited by two outstanding, undeniable facts:
- Europeans are by and large opposed to the entry of Turkey in the EU even in the distant future
- The European institutions (notably those proposed within the Constitution) will not work if Turkey becomes the fulcrum of the European political system.
Lastly, the Commission, in a world in which the communitarian system functions in a European reality, and not just in a virtual world of lobbies and an “Ivory Tower,” should recognize that the Council, by a vast majority, asks only one thing, that the report on the Turkish question will be mostly negative.
This would then permit a delay in negotiations and the beginning of talks on a new type of partnership with Ankara. If the Commission’s report is heavily positive, and concludes that there are no longer major obstacles to the opening of negotiations, then the Council will follow suit because no Head of State or government can take the risk of being the “evil party” and thus see their economic and bilateral relations with Turkey fractured.
So, the Commission knows that if it says “yes” it will force the Council to follow in the same direction. In this manner, out of weakness, the Council will share the responsibility for derailing the Constitutional referenda because none of its members has the stature of a true “European Head of State”, capable of favouring the European collective interest to national interests.
So, in fine, we can say on the 6 th of October that, because of the probable positive report on Turkey, the Commission will be responsible for “killing” the project that was the European Constitution. The ultimate irony being that Turkey will still not enter the European Union for decades to come!
Their will be serious consequences as a result of the European executive forcing the loss of the most important political project of the Community. This decision will lead to a major European crisis in 2005/2006 and cast doubt as to all of the most fundamental aspects of the Community and its construction.
Franck Biancheri, 21/09/2004
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