New Eurobarometer poll shows Czechs would ratify EU constitution

When French and Dutch voters said a very firm 'No' to the European Union's proposed constitution in 2005 the whole project appeared dead in the water. Recently, however, some European leaders have begun floating the idea that the EU's first constitution could be revived, either fully or in part. The Czech Republic's official position is that it will hold a referendum on the issue - but there has been no talk of a date being set. A new poll suggests most Czech voters would support the constitution; it also indicates most people in this country arein favour of further EU enlargement.

The EU's Eurobarometer polling agency has just published its latest opinion survey, and the results make surprising reading. The draft EU constitution would now make it through in most of the countries that haven't yet ratified it, including the Czech Republic. According to the poll, conducted throughout the EU in September, the constitution would even win a referendum in those countries which previously rejected it.

The poll suggested that Czech support for the constitution stood at around 50 percent, compared to 30 percent who opposed it. The poll also revealed that most Czechs - like all EU newcomers - were in favour of further EU enlargement. Some of the results presented something of a paradox - only 51 percent of Czech respondents said they considered EU membership positive, compared to the EU´s average of 53 percent. But at the same time, 66 percent of Czechs said they believed that the Czech Republic had benefited from being a member of the EU.

Photo: European Commission
The EU constitution - drawn up to streamline and reform an expanded European Union - is currently on ice after being rejected by France and the Netherlands. It's been ratified by 14 of the 25 EU member states, while the remainder - including the Czech Republic - have put the process on hold.

However ratification must be uninamous among the EU 25 for the document to come into force. So even if the remaining members were to ratifty it, France and the Netherlands would have to hold new referendums. An alternative would be to draw up a new document, but then the whole ratification process would need to start from scratch.