On France's Rejection of the European Constitution

Interview With Giorgio Salina, of the Convention of Christians for Europe

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ROME, MAY 31, 2005 (Zenit.org).- The country that was most opposed to the mention of the continent's Christian roots in the European Constitution, has seen that charter rejected by its people.



Giorgio Salina, vice president of the Convention of Christians for Europe, noted that paradox in the wake of French voters' rejection of the constitution on Sunday. The document was rejected by a margin of 54.8% to 45.1%.

In this interview, Salina tries to explain the reasons and consequences of this result.

Q: A high turnout, and a percentage of "no" votes higher than forecast by the polls: in a word, the French population clearly rejected the European plan delineated in the Constitutional Treaty. What is your opinion on this vote?

Salina: All phenomena affecting Europe are certainly complex and so is the French vote and the reasons for it. Excessive simplifications do not help the European cause.

Such is the case, for example, of the statements of Graham Watson, president of the Alliance Group of Democrats and Liberals for Europe, for whom it is an "internal French question," or those of the Italian European Commissioner Franco Frattini, who said that "it is necessary to continue to try to make Europe somewhat less bureaucratic."

There is unease, and it is serious. Going against all the political parties in favor of a "yes," 55% of the French rejected the Constitutional Treaty and, according to the forecasts, other countries are preparing to follow France with higher percentages favoring a "no" vote.

Obviously there are responsibilities and causes: the deafness of the Convention, presided over by Giscard d'Estaing, and of the Parliament to signs coming from the citizens, the redundancy of the document, the bureaucratic character of the community organisms, the lack of initiative in the area of defense and foreign policy, as well as the lack of political incisiveness in face of the crisis and the loss of competitiveness, and the fact that more than 40% of the budget is dedicated to agriculture, penalizing innovation.

No one mentions the rejection of the Judeo-Christian roots: Whether we like it or not, it is quite probable that this contributed to form a negative judgment among a substantial number of European citizens.

To reject a serious, profound and critical rethinking of the stages we have covered to date would be like hiding one's head in the sign, like an ostrich, compromising the European ideal.

Q: Do you really think that there are people who did not vote because of the absence of a reference to Europe's roots?

Salina: Yes, I am convinced that it was one of the causes. There was dislike for the ignorance of a historical truth impossible to deny and there certainly was dislike for the arrogant rejection of not even wanting to consider the argument.

Q: In fact, this vote seems to be rather a rejection of the policies promoted by the European Union. According to some observers, there is unease over the power of the Brussels bureaucracy, and over a cultural policy that, in the name of tolerance, rejects the Judeo-Christian tradition and cancels the family, promoting homosexual marriages. What is your opinion?

Salina: I agree! Tolerance is, certainly, to ensure the rights of all cultures and identities, but not to ignore the culture shared by the majority.

It is cultural totalitarianism not to take it into account. It seems that there are people who do not like the dictatorship of relativism. Perhaps this is what the French disliked.

Q: What will happen now, especially if other countries vote against the European project as conceived? What scenarios can be foreseen?

Salina: It is very difficult to respond. From the president of the commission, to the governments and constitutionalists -- all are examining the situation which has been created, as the treaty does not specify what must be done in face of this kind of rejection.

For a long time there has been talk of a "Plan B." Parliament says that the commission is studying it, but no one says anything. Only very generic formulas are used as, for example, "to point with determination to a Europe of nations" or to a "rethinking of a Europe of two speeds."

It is to be hoped that a trick won't be found to continue this way despite everything.

There must be a triggering of dignity and pride to rethink the future, which does not neglect what has been achieved to date, but which relaunches with deeds the great ideal of Konrad Adenauer, Robert Schuman and Alcide De Gasperi.

The nations of the East and West are calling for it, and the new generations are expecting it.

I also think that Christians can and must contribute -- with great humility, effort, seriousness and constancy -- to relaunching this new prospect of real internal and external solidarity.