23 May 2006

Trail to Failure: History of the Constitutional Rejection and Implications for the Future

Richard E. Baldwin

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Acknowledging that the French and Dutch no-votes were a huge blow to the Constitutional Treaty and that there is no plan for putting the Constitution into force, Richard E. Baldwin, Professor of International Economics at the Graduate Institute of International Studies in Geneva, asks in this paper: What is the EU’s next step? While conceding that the full answer to this question is unknowable at this point, he asserts that any answer must surely take into account the ‘trail to failure’ – the sequence of events that led up to the Constitution. Baldwin then sets out to identify the political economy logic behind the chain of events that produced the Constitution. This is a critical task as far as the future is concerned for the French and Dutch votes mean that the political economy forces that produced the Constitution are still in operation and are likely to produce a future event. To understand the nature and timing of this future event – the EU’s next step – we must thoroughly investigate past events. We must dissect the problems that the Constitution was intended to redress, carefully distinguishing between urgent and obvious problems on the one hand, and less urgent and less obvious problems on the other. The urgent and obvious problems are things the EU must address and thus probably will address in the coming years.