Because no one has one. Well, no one has a public plan about how to handle one or more rejections of the European consitution in upcoming national referenda. But as the French referendum is approaching and the numbers do not look too good for the “yes” camp, unofficial Plan Bs are suddenly everywhere, if only to scare the naysaying Gauls into becoming responsible citizens. I know it’s common knowledge by now, but let me repeat it once more – a French “non” would be the worst case, and have possibly nuclear consequences for the EU as we know it. So scaring the voters a little seems like a reasonable approach to me.
In this vein, Bettina Thalmeyer of the Munich based Center for Applied Policy Research has put together a list of possibilities for the day after (and has published a paper about it (in German)) – hoping that it will not be May 30 (the translation and slight modifications are mine, table in the extended).
Keeping the Status Quo: “Nice Forever”
Setback for the process of European integration.
Persistence of the reform-indigent Treaty of Nice.
Implementation of a number of constitutional elements based on the existing Treaties.
Implementation without the package-deal logic (of EU compromises)
Increased intransparency of European primary and secondary law
Only fragmentary implementation administrative reforms possible in this scenario, lack of fundamental elements of the desired institutional reforms.
Implementation of certain elements of the Constitution by a number of ratifying member-states within or outside of the existing treaties.
Scenario with limited applicability:
Amount of prerequisites for the “increased cooperation” option within the treaties (last possible option)
Sectoral policy agreements cannot achieve the desired institutional reforms.
Repetition of referendum without changes to text
Politically risky, as electorate will likely feel offended.
Second conference of governments and renewed ratification process
Danger of a substancially shallow Constitution ridden with bad (worse…) compromises.
Danger of failure of second conference, leading to ever harsher conflicts of interests
delayed coming into force of reformed institutions.
but: possibilty of an improved Constitution.
Mini conference of governments
changes to only a couple of elements.
likely no need for another referendum in other member-states.
Symbolic concessions and opt-out rules
needs clear cut issue-areas of contention, useless in case of rejection because of the electorate’s EU fatigue or lack of affection
limited only to the Charta of Rights, not possible with respect to the institutional reforms
Coming into force of the Constitution only in those EU member-states that have ratified it
co-existence of two Unions with different, yet partly overlapping membership
Decisions concerning identical issues with possibly contradicting outcomes.
Voluntary exit of non-ratifying member-state
Enormous costs for exiting member-state.
Depending on the importance of the state, political and economic costs for the remaining EU.
Possibly fundamental shift in the dynamic of integration
Exit of the ratifying member-states and entry into the “Constitution-EU” without the non-ratifyers
Co-existence of two unions with different membership.
Need of institutional relations of the old and the new union.
Possibly two unions with a common super-structure.