WASHINGTON, June 4, 2005 -- The collateral damage from the rejection of the European Union constitution first by France and then the Netherlands extends to Europe's role in the Middle East. It did not escape Arab commentators that a significant factor in the "no" vote was public opposition to immigration. In France and the Netherlands that translates into implied anti-Arab sentiment: Immigrants in both come mainly from across the Mediterranean in North Africa.
France has the largest Muslim immigrant population of any country in Europe (about 8 million Moroccans, Algerians, Tunisians, and others); the Netherlands has proportionately the second largest. But aside from the domestic problems, some observers believe the French-Dutch double whammy has serious implications for the EU's foreign policy generally.
"If the Europeans can't agree on something as fundamental as their constitution, how can anyone -- for example -- regard as credible the EU's common defense policy?" mused one European official in Washington.
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