France Souring on EU?

If you believe the polls, anyway:

More
bad news from France for the European Union: A new opinion poll coming
out Monday suggests that most French voters would reject the EU
constitution if a referendum were held today.

The French will not be called on to vote until May 29, but the poll
is the second in less than a week indicating that France could strike
down the EU’s historic attempt to adopt a constitution.

As a fan of the EU,
I find this worrisome, to say the least. The EU constitution, as
written, imposes a lot of new, federal-style institutions on member
nations and EU citizens. Among others, it provides for a more powerful
EU judiciary, a unified legal personality, and a single EU diplomatic
representative. Additionally, being an EU member increasingly means
supporting poorer countries; some of the most recent admittees to the
EU also have the lowest GDP in the EU. Slate has chronicled what seem to be the dwindling priveleges of EU membership. The European Parliament, theoretically the most democratic of the EU’s
three branches, remains structurally the weakest.

While this has all
been happening, the EU has done precious little to improve its
relations with man-on-the-street Europeans. They see the EU
government as a distant, nondescript body. (Jolyon Howorth, an EU
scholar and professor of mine, tells a story about the UK placing the
draft Constitution on seats at soccer matches, only to have them used
as weapons in ensuing riots.)

Especially given the France poll’s
emphasis on public apathy, one has to wonder: Is the European public
beginning to question the wisdom of their project? I don’t have a clear
answer; it’s just a worrying sign. Thoughts?

- Daniel A. Munz

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