Brendan Donnelly of the Federal Trust discusses this issue in light
of the UK’s 2006 referendum on the EU Constitution(al Treaty).
The British government has now published the question which, in
all likelihood, will be put to the electorate in a referendum some
time in 2006. It runs: ‘Should the United Kingdom approve the
treaty establishing a constitution for the European Union?’ The
text of the question has been generally welcomed, but it leaves
unresolved (probably deliberately) whether the document signed by
25 European heads of government in Rome last October is more
accurately described as a ‘constitution’ or a ‘constitutional
treaty’. To some, the question may appear a purely theoretical one.
The text on which the electorate will vote next year clearly
contains important characteristics both of a treaty and of a
constitution. Which element predominates might be seen as a matter
of marginal personal assessment. But choice of vocabulary is often
politically significant, not least in the European debate. The
conflict between rival descriptions of the document at issue will
play at least a symbolic, and possibly a substantial role in the
debate leading up to next year’s referendum. (…)
This is the first paragraph taken directly
from a Federal Trust Policy Commentary, written
by Brendan Donnelly, Director. Click here to read the text in full.