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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.
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.
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
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