EU charter's fate still uncertain after Luxembourg's Yes vote
Luxembourg voters have saved the European Union (EU)'s face on Sunday by voting in favor of the bloc's constitutional treaty on the heels of rejections in French and Dutch referendums. However, the fate of the EU's first ever charter "remains uncertain," as European Commission (EC) President Jose Manuel Barroso pointed out after he heard the news.
"EUROPE STILL IN CRISIS"
"Insofar as Luxembourg said 'yes' to the treaty, Europe is still in a crisis but in a crisis that leaves several elements pointing toward the horizon inviting optimism," Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker cautioned after the announcement of the referendum results which showed 56.52 percent of voters for the charter and 43.48 percent against.
Support for the constitution have dropped significantly in recent months in Luxembourg, one of the EU's founding members and most ardent supporters. The decline in support, notably after the French and Dutch votes, had intensified suspense about the outcome before the referendum.
EC chief Barroso expressed "great satisfaction" with Luxembourg's backing of the EU charter, but also warned that the treaty's fate remains uncertain.
The decision by EU leaders to start an in-depth debate on the future of the EU should proceed quickly, he added.
"Luxembourg's popular prime minister got as expected a vote of confidence, but this will not revive the constitution," said Danish Eurosceptic MEP Jens-Peter Bonde in a first reaction to the vote, reports said.
STILL ROUGH WAY TO GO
Sunday's referendum has made Luxembourg the 13th member to ratify the constitution following the Maltese parliament's green light on Wednesday.
EU leaders declared a "period of reflection" at their mid-June summit in Brussels to try to figure out what to do with the constitution after the French and Dutch rejections, leaving countries the option to push ahead with the ratification process.
The Czech Republic, undecided until then, also announced that it would not hold a referendum, leaving Luxembourg the only EU member to go ahead with a poll.
While insisting that the treaty was still alive, Juncker acknowledged Sunday however that in order to revive it, either France or the Netherlands would have to vote again or it would have to be renegotiated.
"As Luxembourg said 'yes', the process can go on ... and we will see at the very end how to react to those countries having said 'no'," he added.
However, leaders in France and the Netherlands have already said they will not hold a second vote.
The EU constitution is designed to streamline the bloc's decision-making process after the admission of 10 new members -- mostly from central and eastern Europe -- last May.
Since the treaty has to be ratified by all 25 members for it to come legally into force, the fate of the EU's first ever constitution remains largely unpredictable.
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