It has happened. After France and the Netherlands rejected the European Constitutional Treaty, Ireland’s “No” vote is the second and probably decisive blow against a united and strong Europe.
June 12, 2008, will have to be remembered as the day that made European history. No matter what desperate rescue efforts will be undertaken, they cannot hide the fact that the European Union has left the world stage as a serious foreign policy player for at least ten years (if not for much longer).
This has happened at a time when the problems on the Balkans remain unresolved, America is experiencing a relative decline, Russia is regaining strength, Turkey’s domestic policy is taking a wrong turn, the Near East – the EU’s direct neighbor – threatens to explode, and the speed of China’s and India’s rise as emerging powers will define the global economy and politics of tomorrow.
Poor Europe! With the Irish referendum, it has blindly and needlessly thrown itself into a political calamity. Certainly, the EU will continue to exist and its institutions will continue to function, for better or worse, on the foundation of the Treaty of Nice. But a proactive, strong Europe capable of determining its own fate will not be in the cards for quite some time.