What are the arguments for and against the proposals to reform the European Constitution?

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Louise Carvey

What are the arguments for and against the proposals to reform the European Constitution?

        The constitution is a single document replacing current European laws that come from several international treaties. It recognises and codifies EU decision making which has become more complicated since the EU expanded from 15 to 25 states in May 2004. On 18 June, the EU Member States agreed on a Constitutional Treaty (Constitution) for the EU. The Member States of the European Union worked on this new Constitution during the Intergovernmental Conference (IGC), which started in October 2003. The basis for these negotiations was the draft Constitutional Treaty drawn up by the European Convention on the Future of Europe. Member States are expected to sign the Constitution on October 29, 2004. Subsequently, the Constitution has to be ratified by all Member States according to their constitutional provisions. Only thereafter, the Constitution will come into force. So far, ten Member States have announced to hold referenda: Ireland, Denmark, Great Britain, France, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Spain, Poland, the Czech Republic and Portugal. If, within two years of signing, not all member states have ratified the Constitution, the European Council will consider possible solutions.

The Constitution is the first common project of the enlarged Union and brings about a substantial improvement in comparison to the provisions of the Nice Treaty.

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        The constitution will establish the EU as a separate body in law so the EU can sign international agreements as a single bloc rather than as 25 different countries. It will create the permanent post of European Council President that will stop the current rotation system of presidency. It will also create the post of EU Foreign Minister combining the two positions of foreign relations representatives in the Council and Commission. The Charter of Fundamental Rights would be incorporated into the constitution and would therefore strengthen it. It would remove each country’s right of veto in over 30 areas replacing ...

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