Spain Votes Yes - When will its Embassies Close Down?
With George Bush visiting Europe this week, I think it makes sense to look at the referendum that occurred in Spain yesterday regarding the approval of the EU constitution. The issue will likely spurn further discussion and argument over the next year. But does it really mean that there will be an EU embassy in lieu of the French, English or Spanish embassies? Who is better informed – the Spanish Prime Minister or its citizens?
Yesterday Spanish citizens approved the European Union constitution in a national referendum. While voter turnout was relatively low (42% voted), approval of the constitution was backed by 77%, versus 17% who voted against approval.
The government used a broad media campaign in support of garnering widespread approval, but approximately 90% of Spaniards admitted they still have little knowledge of what the approval of the EU constitution actually means (I love those well-informed voters!).
According to Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, European countries could eventually close their embassies if the constitution is approved by member states. "We will undoubtedly see European embassies in the world, not ones from each country, with European diplomats and a European foreign service," Zapatero said. He added, “We will see Europe with a single voice in security matters. We will have a single European voice within NATO. We want more European unity.”
Zapatero also claimed that Britain and France would also lose their voices in NATO and their seats on the U.N. Security Council. U.K. Shadow Foreign Secretary Michael Ancram reacted angrily to Zapatero’s statement, “Spain’s PM has made clear what Tony Blair has denied again and again — that the EU constitution is all about handing vast new powers to Brussels. “Now we know that, if we approve it, the EU will run foreign policy.” “It means another transfer of power to people in Brussels who are not elected and can’t be voted out."
On a positive note, if Europe does being closing down its embassies overseas in favor of a single EU embassy, it would open up some nice real estate on Embassy Row in Washington DC.
Note that the Barcepundit has a good roundup of European press reaction to Spain's turnout.