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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Il faut rendre l’Europe aux peuples

by Cathy Ceïbe

« Giving Europe back to the people»

Translated Monday 21 May 2007, by Emily Schirrer www.wordpro-translations.com

An interview with socialist senator, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, following Friday and Saturday’s European symposium at the Senate. The need for a new constitution is confirmed.

Is this European symposium intended to counter the Madrid meeting for the revival of the European constitutional Treaty?

Jean-Luc Mélenchon: Just the opposite. We are currently putting together a network of European activists from different parties: social democrats, German or Italian communists, Portuguese etc. reuniting ten
countries. The network is using the political implications of the French and Dutch rejection of the current European construction model, to try to apply the power of democracy to resolve the crisis in Europe. This would imply formulating a European plan, based on a constituent mandate, which would be given to the European Assembly or, to a group of States willing to place democracy in the driving seat rather than capital and the market.

But is a new constitution conceivable, or even necessary?

Jean-Luc Mélenchon: There is a need for a new Constitution because a separate approach is already underway: the European authorities are ready; the policies instigated by these authorities are real. Consequently, saying that we want a new Europe and a new Constitution, amounts to the same thing. We need to give Europe back to the people because as it stands, we are witnessing a political construction whose fundamental characteristic consists of excluding the people from the choices which affect them. Yet 80 % of the legislative content comes from Europe. It’s tantamount to dispossession. The people feel Europe is hostile towards them; they are frustrated about not being able to give their opinion. The great democratic nations have sacrificed their democracy, so what is to stop the capital from sacrificing the Welfare State?

Do you believe the creation of a constituent assembly to be an adequate solution?

Jean-Luc Mélenchon: We don’t have any choice. We have already handed over part of our national sovereignty. Either we reclaim it, and thus withdraw from the European Union, or we decide that there is some wisdom in forming a regional body, insisting all the while on democracy. Traditionally, and according to the revolutionary history of the French and the nations of Europe, democracy has been the key, the means of transition from the Ancient obscurantist world to the Modern era. Our contemporaries are witnessing a serious regression: Europe is aggressive; it’s taking the States apart and destroying the possibility of “society building”, i.e. mutual decision-making. Building a democratic body is the only possibility, otherwise, and I weigh my words carefully, Europe has no hope of a future. We are already seeing warning signs as tensions between the European nations gather momentum.

Would that explain the left-wing candidate’s warnings during the presidential elections?

Jean-Luc Mélenchon. We need to look at the facts. The French left-wing desperately needs to find a common ground for European policy. The representatives of the candidates expressing their views, with the exception of the Green party who were not present, clearly stated that the French should be consulted with regards to new European alternatives. It is something which differentiates the left from the right. The latter has decided to manage without the French people given that Nicolas Sarkozy is in favour of a “light treaty” to be approved by the Parliament.

One conflict remains unclear: the liberal nature of this constitution...

Jean-Luc Mélenchon. Indeed. But we are not going to go over this conflict perpetually. The right-wing, whatever the country, is unified on the European project. We, the left-wing, are in danger of profound division. It may be possible to leave behind long standing opposition on one condition: the will of the people. It is promising to see that all candidates, including the socialist representative, have taken note of the fall of the former constitutional bill and are opting instead for a new, people’s consultation referendum, in the event of an impending project. The left-wing has their differences but we agree that there should be public intervention.

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