The French and Dutch voters rejected the draft constitution for essentially leftist reasons. They rejected it because:
- The constitution moves powers from national governments to a central executive body (an undemocratic move by definition) without granting strong rights or some other democratic benefit in return.
- The EU executive bodies are seen, correctly, as not sufficiently democratic or accountable. The constitution sought to strengthen them without fixing this democratic deficit.
- The voters wanted to express unhappiness about their national governments, which was largely caused by the neo-liberal policies that those governments are implementing.
What the voters rejected is not the EU but a particular, business-oriented agenda for moving it forward. This doesn't look like a crisis to me - in fact it looks like an inspiring example of democracy in action. So why are the British and US papers full of gloomy editorials about the EU being "set back", or "in crisis", or somehow associated with "the failed French system" (the centrist-socialist one that voters prefer) if not to cloud the issue?
Nothing bad is going to happen to the EU because the draft constitution has been rejected. The EU has huge problems, mainly an under-developed democratic and socialist structure, but it is still the most successful social cohesion project since 1776 and its convergence process is continuing apace with the Eastern European states. What it needs is some form of federal democracy and welfare policy.
(Credits to Anastasia for some of this)