The European Union waits with bated breath for the result of the referendum on the EU Constitution in the Netherlands. But given the heavy No vote in France at the weekend, it could be argued that the Dutch vote doesn't matter now. The Treaty is already dead, argue its many opponents, and many others who for one reason or another would be glad to be spared the domestic political inconvenience of ratifying it.

Without quite dancing on the grave, the UK was quick to call for a profound rethink of the EU agenda. Nothing would suit Tony Blair better than to have a pretext for dropping the whole awkward question of a national referendum.

Similarly, few tears have been shed in the Czech Republic or Poland, where the prospect of divisive referendum campaigns are dismaying the current government in Prague and the opposition party that will probably be in power in Warsaw by the autumn.

Certainly the French result has dealt a body blow to the Constitutional Treaty, and to political confidence in the European Union in general. Certainly it is at present difficult to identify a convincing route by which the result might be reversed there. And almost certainly the prospects of any re-run of a French referendum on this treaty would have to wait until the presidential elections there which inevitably delays such a solution at least until 2007.

But treaty supporters and the EU political...

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