Constitution wreck must not be revived

By Robert Sturdy MEPIN recent weeks a variety of misguided people have been trying to bring the dead body of the European Constitution back to life.

By Robert Sturdy MEP

IN recent weeks a variety of misguided people have been trying to bring the dead body of the European Constitution back to life. Lib Dem MEP for our region Andrew Duff, said last week: “The constitution is not a corpse - it had a car crash and now requires surgery.”

The Constitution is a write off, no surgery can save something that burst into flames and died in a raging inferno of unpopularity. Talking to a French civil servant the other day, I asked why she was so sure that the Constitution should be resurrected. "I spent two years studying the stupid thing, I do not want all my work to be in vain.”

I can't help but think that this is the case for a lot of the people who wrote it. While we need to make the EU work better, and some of the ideas in the Constitution are good, nothing can save this doomed document. It should be allowed to rest in peace.

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A bit like the Constitution, we all wish bird flu would just go away, but sadly neither seems likely to happen. Migrating birds are bringing H5N1, the dangerous form of Avian Influenza, ever closer to our borders but the virus is not behaving as scientists expected. Quite simply it doesn't seem to be as deadly in Turkey as it was in Vietnam and Thailand.

Some of those who have tested positive in Turkey don't show any symptoms of being ill. Viruses mutate and it is possible that rather than becoming more dangerous, the threat will diminish. It could be that the Bird Flu fears of 2005-2006 will be looked back on like the Millennium Bug - potentially terrifying but actually nothing really happened.

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Unable to see into the future, a lot of people have started looking into the past to see what can be learnt from previous epidemics. Learning from history is not an exact science, it works better for politics than it does for diseases because people change less down the years than viruses do.

The reason we must stay vigilant is that at the moment we don't know what the future will hold. We can say for sure that the threat at the moment is not great, nor are our region's beautiful bird reserves remotely dangerous.

Nonetheless, having picked up a bit of a sniffle while in Hong Kong for the World Trade talks last month, I was a bit worried that my interest in the bird market had given me a terrible disease!

On Monday the man in charge of Public Health for the European Union, Markos Kyprianou came to the European Parliament to talk about what was being done. Last week he was at a conference in Beijing where $1.9 billion was pledged to restrict and curb the spread of the virus and transmission between birds and humans.

This is a lot of money and it must be spent well. It might not be enough, or it might be unnecessary. No one knows and I will continue to ask Mr Kyprianou and the British Government to keep us informed.

Robert Sturdy MEP wrote the European Parliament's Public Health Committee Report on measures for the control of Avian Influenza. Anyone interested in learning more about the EU's response to the threat of Bird Flu should contact , or his constituency office on: 01954 211970

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