Continued from page 1

The EU is likely to function a little better with the new treaty than without it. But should it be put to a [popular] referendum? This treaty is shorter than the one French and Dutch voters rejected in 2005 and it ditches the pompous statelike trappings, such as an anthem and a flag, proposed in the original.

But most of the substantive changes the French and Dutch electorates rejected are still in it. EU leaders are now so terrified of further “No” votes that only Ireland’s is ready to risk one. But, in all, 10 governments promised referendums on the constitutional treaty. …

If, as seems likely, the new treaty is ratified without popular votes, the politicians will be able to congratulate themselves on having smuggled through the back door what they failed to bring in through the front. It is a sorry end to a decadelong efforts to warm up Europeans’ tepid enthusiasm for the EU.