The treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe to the Italian Presidency of the European Council.

Authors Avatar

On July, 18th 2003 the Chairman of the Convention on the future of Europe, V. Giscard d’Estaing, accompanied by the two Vice-Chairmen, G. Amato and J.-L. Dehaene, on the Convention’s behalf, officially handed over the full draft Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe to the Italian Presidency of the European Council. This draft aims to give a new basis to the future enlarged Europe with 25 countries, balancing the desires of those who want more integration with the wishes of those who want a Europe of  nation states. The draft has been accepted as a basis for the constitution and now goes to governments for further detailed negotiation. The inter-governmental conference, which is composed of heads of state and foreign ministers of the fifteen existing members of the EU and the ten countries due to join in May 2004, has to finalise the text of the first EU constitution. On May, 9th 2004 the European Union should be able to sign its Rome Constitution, so that the signing comes in time for the admission of ten new members and the European elections in June 2004. First, I will define and analyse the principal amendments of the EU constitution which concern the political and institutional aspects of the EU. Secondly, I will explain and analyse the amendments regarding the European values and citizenship in its wide sense. Finally, I will emphasise on the arguing points, the fears across Europe about the Constitution project, and we will wonder whether the enlarged Europe will be more democratic than the old one thanks to the Constitution.

The draft EU constitution proposed a new job: the President of the European Council. The European Council would elect its President by qualified majority, for a term of two-and-a-half years, renewable once. The European Parliament would approve or not the nominee. The EU president would not be allowed to hold a national mandate at the same time. The Convention also proposed the job of “Foreign Minister”. The European Council, deciding by qualified majority, with the agreement of the president of the Commission, shall appoint the Union’s foreign minister. The foreign minister is responsible for security and defence policy. In this way, these two personalities would be the central figures of Europe, they would embody its opinions, speaking in one voice for the whole Europe. As a result, they would have a leading role on the international stage. Belgian Premier Guy Verhofstadt claimed the EU had to be empowered by its constitution to develop a genuine and credible foreign policy based on its own European defence. He mentioned the Balkans war, saying that Europe was paralysed and did nothing to prevent or stop that war until the US intervened in the European war [ BANKS, M.; 20/11-26/11/03]. Moreover, Germany, France and the UK agree that a more permanent presidency for the Council of Ministers would give the EU a greater continuity and focus. However, a number of smaller states fear that the President would always come from one of the largest states [BBC News, 16/05/2003], and that he might be too powerful. We can only lament the fact that the Convention could not propose an elected President, since he would have had more democratic legitimacy and peoples of Europe would have had the impression of being better represented by this new European leader.

Join now!

Another amendment with an institutional aspect is the reform of the European Commission. As the Commission would not have been able to work properly with ten more countries added to the current fifteen, the Convention had to find another way of voting. Consequently, from November 2009, each country would still have one Commissioner but only 15 of the 25 will have voting rights, with voting rights rotating through the member states. Thus, large countries would have only one Commissioner instead of two. In addition, the Convention proposed a new definition of qualified majority voting: all but the most sensitive EU ...

This is a preview of the whole essay