Just because the constitution is being signed is no guarantee that the people of Europe will accept it. The thing needs to be ratified. This could take about two years, and while ratification will mostly pass through national parliaments, some countries are planning to put it to a referendum.
The director of the EOS Gallup polling institute, Lenders de Voogt, says most of the citizens are in favour of the new treaty: “But that isn’t to say you’ll have ratification everywhere. Some ideas, notably the very notion of adopting a constitution at all, don’t go over well in certain countries. Take Estonia, the United Kingdom and Sweden. People are fairly divided on adopting a constitution for the European Union.” Co-chief at the European Policy center, Giovanni Grevi, speculates on the potential for future difficulties. Population sizes come into it, as well as precedents in the EU’s history: “The implication of a rejection of the constitution would be different depending of which country rejects the constitution. If that is a large country, such as for example the United Kingdom or Poland, then surely some sort of renegotiation should be entered (into) by all 25 of the member states. If it is a small country, then chances are that the concerns of that country could be addressed with an opt-out clause, and perhaps the country could be asked to vote again. If the constitution is rejected by France, then I think that there will be the only case where the constitution would never be adopted.” Never? Why not? A bit more on that from the head of the European Studies Insitute at the Free University in Brussels, Paul Magnette: “France may be the only country where the European ideal remains all-powerful, where a big part of the citizens continue to expect that Europe could be a space of solidarity, social policy-wise, and also a force on the international scene. And so French dissatisfaction is the dissatisfaction of people who are dissappointed, who would have liked to see more social content in the treaty, fiscal harmonisation, a more important role in the international political scene, and an important military role for Europe. In other countries, like the UK, it’s the discontent of those afraid that Europe does too much.” The countries that have already announced they will have referendums on the constitution also include Ireland, Spain, Denmark and Luxembourg. Several others are considering it.