EPP reaches compromise on draft EU Constitution

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Date: Sun Oct 20 2002 - 10:40:32 CEST

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    EPP reaches compromise on draft EU Constitution

    EUOBSERVER / ESTORIL - The European Peoples Party, (EPP)
    wants a strong European "prime minister" as president of the EU
    Commission. The Spanish prime minister José Maria Aznar is a
    likely candidate for this post. It also wants the European Parliament
    to elect the European prime minister.

    He shall then appoint his "government" meaning member states
    would no longer have the right to have their own commissioner. This
    federalist approach was opposed by some members who wanted a
    "super president" for the EU appointed by the heads of states.

    The draft for a European Constitution was approved yesterday, at
    the end of the 15th European People’s Party Congress, in Estoril,
    Portugal. It represents a two-year effort to reach a
    consensus between the two different visions on the
    future of the EU; one inter-governmentalist, one federalist.

    A final interpretation in the plenary session rejected
    the possibility of a super president of the Council.
    Instead it proposes a Commission president,
    elected by the parliament. The Council would still have its
    executive tasks and would be split into two offices,
    including a Foreign Affairs Council.

    Balanced perspectives
    These measures are a compromise based on the
    diverse opinions presented in the Congress. On one hand
    it is considered a victory for the small countries,
    which are totally against the EU president. They fear
    consolidated power for the larger member states,
    as they have fewer chances to reach the president
    position. "Europe needs great ambitions, it doesn’t
    need more presidents", said the Luxembourg prime
    minister, Jean Claude Juncker.

    On the other hand, the new proposals go some way
    to appeasing those who demand a strong Union leader.
    The largest countries, such as Spain and Germany,
    supported this position. These different opinions were
    discussed in depth over the two days by 900 EPP
    delegates and leaders from different countries. Ten prime
    ministers, seven from the EU, attended the opening session last Thursday.

    Vague expressions
    In his final conclusions, EPP president Wilfried Martens
    summed up that this had been "a way to congregate
    two different sensibilities" expressed during the congress.
    "The 34th point (about the Council) shows that
    we want an executive power in Europe." Despite
    these efforts to create this consensus between EPP party
    members, each country can still choose to ignore the
    document and go on defending its own particular views
    on the future of Europe.

    Some expressions, in the final document, are quite
    vague and allow different interpretations, which led to
    several discussions and doubts. Mr Martens tried to
    create some confidence by reminding delegates that
    those were only guidelines for the Convention.
    Although he then went on to underline the importance of the
    document given that the EPP is the largest European political family.

    EU will not enlarge forever
    "This is a party with two positions. But we will end up
    maintaining a structured line, which has always been
    our attitude", commented Portuguese Alberto João Jardim,
    after being elected one of the 10 EPP vice-presidents.

    These reforms stand for the viability of an EU with 25
    member states, which demands a more flexible
    institutional structure. For this reason a lighter
    Council structure was proposed, and all countries being
    represented in the Commission was rejected.
    But Mr Martens warned that the EU "won’t enlarge ad
    eternum." For this reason the establishment of
    special guidelines for cooperation with countries that won’t
    belong to the EU was approved.

      Written by Lina Ferreira
      Edited by Honor Mahony

      Article published 19.10.2002 - 12:22 CET
      Printed from EUobserver 20.10.2002

      Copyright EUobserver 2000, 2001, 2002
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