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Revision of the Constitutional Treaty for Europe

(Brussels, June 2007)

Thursday 7 June 2007

After a ’period of reflection’ and the festive celebrations of the EU’s 50th birthday in March, serious discussions about the future of Europe have arisen. At the next summit, to be held on 21-22 June, Germany is hoping to break the deadlock on the Constitutional Treaty, however, disagreement is still widespread among the EU member states. To win support for a revised, treaty the German government is proposing to split the constitution into two parts.

The idea is to have a basic treaty containing the institutional arrangements, competences, objectives and values of the Union and a separate text dealing with the policies and the question whether decisions should be taken by unanimity or qualified majority voting. The EU leaders aim at creating a new common basis before the European Parliament elections in 2009.

Of course there are still the problems of the ’No’ in France and the Netherlands (2005) as well as the continuing eurosceptic approach in several countries such as the UK and the Czech Republic. The Germans fear that the UK will form the biggest stumbling block to a deal with its wish for a minimalist treaty. In addition to this, the UK has suggested dropping the fundamental rights charter from the constitution; it wants to prevent the charter from being legally enforceable (as does the Czech Republic).

Positions

It should not be forgotten that the Treaty had already been ratified by 18 countries, among which founding countries Italy, Germany, Belgium and Luxemburg. As a result, these countries prefer to maintain the current constitutional text. Other countries that are willing to ratify (Ireland, Portugal, Sweden and Denmark) are generally satisfied with the existing text however they would like some provisions added on specific policy areas. Another group seeks a different text, a simplified or a ’mini’ treaty (France, the Netherlands). Such an ’amended treaty’ would no longer carry the label ’constitution’ and should therefore not have to go through a second referendum. This group is hesitant about some of the institutional reforms, such as an EU minister for foreign affairs. Another group wants to reopen the discussion on the institutional changes in particular the Council voting system (Poland and the Czech Republic). Poland also returns to the discussion on a reference to the Christian roots of the EU in the preambule. Eurofedop closely watches the debates on the new treaty. The Charter of fundamental rights should have a place in the new document as well as the social provisions.


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