Supporters of the European Union's new treaty were quick to hail its endorsement in the Spanish referendum as a victory. Which of course it is. When more than seven out of ten say si, it is harsh to judge the outcome as a rejection.

But there was never any serious doubt as to which way Spain would vote. The spectacular benefits of membership over the last two decades guarantee a broadly positive sentiment towards the EU, even among those with only a vague notion of the intricacies of the treaty itself.

The real challenge to the treaty's ratification lies elsewhere, in referendums in the months to come among citizens with a less clear perception of what the EU has done for them.

Among the countries likely to be next up for a popular vote are two of the biggest - and two of the most problematic. In France, where the referendum is due before this summer, many French citizens may be tempted to make a simple link between the government's current backtracking on their prized 35-hour week and the repeated calls for competitiveness emanating from Brussels.

In the UK, where a referendum may follow shortly after a general election as early as May, the level of Euro-scepticism is so high that the government has asked the EU not to fund...

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