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What Now? More Europe!

The rejection of the European Union’s Constitution by French and Dutch voters forces us to think well beyond that treaty. That much is clear from the current debate on the Community budget. The naysayers’ victories show that sovereignty-based arguments that oppose any kind of European political union are on the march. Euroskeptics, it seems, are gaining ground everywhere, and a kind of xenophobia is on the rise.

But xenophobia and sovereignty were not the primary impulses that propelled the “no” votes. Above all, the “no” votes in France and Holland – and rising discontent in other member states, such as Germany – are the result of the inability of national governments and the Union to respond effectively to the problems that most concern citizens. Not only anti-Europeans rejected the constitution; far from it.

Many Europeans are, in fact, calling on the EU to act to reduce unemployment and to intervene decisively in the international arena. Many interpreted Europe’s internal division over the war in Iraq, with ordinary citizens overwhelmingly opposed to military intervention, as a sign of the Union’s weakness.

But the answer to such doubt and dismay is more Europe, not less. The European Council’s summit on June 16-17 should give a clear sign that it recognizes this.