Latest News from EUObserver: Federal Const. is coming closer!

From: Marc-Oliver Pahl (
Date: Sat Oct 26 2002 - 13:52:18 CEST

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    Leinen proposes a federal EU Constitution

    Jo Leinen, German social democrat member of the European
    Parliament has come up with a draft proposal for a European
    Constitution, based on a federal model. His views oppose those of
    the Convention Chairman Valéry Giscard d'Estaing, who favours a
    more intergovernmental approach. Jo Leinen proposes the
    Commission as the EU executive, with a president elected by the
    European Parliament. He also favours the creation of a European
    senate, made up of member state representatives, which together
    with the European Parliament would be responsible for the
    legislation in the EU.

    This draft European Constitution was presented to the Convention
    President Valéry Giscard d'Estaing, and is expected to be
    discussed on Monday along with the other different proposals tabled
    for the model of the future Constitution. "The time was ripe to table
    a committed pro-European proposal," he said. "There are strong
    forces active who wanted to turn back the wheel of European
    integration or to fix the intergovernmental method in crucial
    questions of the EU."

    Creation of Mr Common Foreign and Security Policy
    Although aware that it will not be welcomed by various EU sections, Jo Leinen wants the Commission
    as the
    EU executive, having the President of the European Commission elected by the European Parliament.
    EU legislation would be entrusted into two chambers, the European Parliament (citizen's chamber) and
    European senate (state's chamber) - emerging from a re-organisation of the Council of Ministers. In
    concerning the EU's Defence Policy, its implementation would be entrusted to one of the three
    Commission's vice-presidents having the name of European Foreign Minister, acting in co-operation
    the European Council.

    An EU state may leave
    He also proposes that a member state may apply to leave the EU, subject to the assent of the
    Parliament, the European Senate, and the majority of the Parliaments of the member states. Moreover,
    member state offending to a significant degree against the values and principles of the EU may, on
    decision of the European Parliament and the European Senate each voting by a two-thirds majority,
    certain of its rights.

    Mr Leinen wants the European Constitution to be approved in a referendum by a majority of the
    citizens and a majority of the Member states. However, those EU states, which do not ratify the
    Constitution, may decide whether they wish to participate on the basis of this Constitution or else
    leave the

    German included in EU working languages
    In his draft proposal, Jo Leinen says that all official languages of the member states would be the
    languages of the Union, but he also sees German being one of the EU working languages with the
    English and French.

    Written by Sharon Spiteri
    Edited by Lisbeth Kirk

    Article published 25.10.2002 - 17:11 CET
    Printed from EUobserver 26.10.2002

    Copyright EUobserver 2000, 2001, 2002
    The information may be used for personal and non-commercial use only
    This article and related links can be found at:

    Franco-German motor kick-started again

    EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - It's official. The Franco-German
    motor is back en vogue. A surprise deal on the Common
    Agricultural Policy (CAP) on Thursday was the first overt sign.
    Anders Fogh Ramussen, the Danish prime minister and current
    president of the EU, was quick to say that there "are fifteen member
    states" in the European Union, but the Commission president was
    more pragmatic. "I want to thank the French and the German
    leaders in particular" for reaching an agreement, said Romano Prodi.

    But the pre-summit deal between German Chancellor Gerhard
    Schröder and French president Jacques Chirac, on what was
    supposed to be the most controversial aspect of the Brussels
    summit, was not all. The two leaders went much further.

    Common position in the Convention on the Future
    In the coming weeks, said Mr Chirac on Friday, the two countries
    will see how they can come to a "common position" in the on-going
    Convention on the future of Europe. He reiterated this at his final
    press conference saying he was "convinced" that the two would
    reach common position. This is a hugely important development at
    this delicate stage in the deliberations in the Convention.

    Until now, the German position on the debate on the future of Europe has been nebulous. France on
    the other
    hand, has been openly siding with the UK and Spain in supporting a more inter-governmental approach.
    with this political will from above, plus the recent placing of the German foreign minister, Joschka
    Fischer, in
    the Convention, things looks set to be shaken up.

    Dynamic engine essential to the EU
    President Chirac, who emerged victoriously from the Brussels Summit, spoke of the "dynamic
    Franco-German co-operation" as being essential for a functioning Europe. "If one forgets this, the
    will remind us of it", he added. Just a few feet away, in another press conference, Gerhard Schröder
    unleashing his praise for his French counterpart. The French president is such an "experienced
    who he "respects," said the Chancellor before going on to speak of the importance of the engine for
    "European development."

    Strong Franco-German declaration in January 2003
    All these good mutual feelings are apparently going to culminate in January. The 40th anniversary of
    Elysée Treaty, which established France and Germany as the driving force in Europe, will be the
    occasion for
    a "strong declaration", said Mr Chirac.

    Written by Honor Mahony
    Edited by Lisbeth Kirk

    Article published 25.10.2002 - 23:33 CET
    Printed from EUobserver 26.10.2002

    Copyright EUobserver 2000, 2001, 2002
    The information may be used for personal and non-commercial use only
    This article and related links can be found at:

    Broad support for Giscard proposals

    EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - EU Heads of State meeting at the
    European Council in Brussels have reacted positively to the outline
    proposed by Convention President, Valery Giscard d’Estaing, for a
    future Constitutional Treaty.

    He said he did not hear a negative response on any issue of the
    architectural framework he intends to present to the Convention for
    the first time on Monday. Details to the framework will be fleshed
    out in the run up to the Copenhagen Summit in December.

    Rotating Presidency
    Mr Giscard confirmed that there had been broad consensus
    amongst EU leaders to change the current six month rotating
    presidency system. "This destabilises the Union. We cannot keep
    defining new priorities every six months," he said.

    The President commented that out of the three major European
    institutions, two – the Parliament and Commission – already had a
    stable presidency. In theory there is no reason why there cannot
    be a president in the third, the Council, he said.

    National vetoes
    On the issue of national vetoes, Mr Giscard said that although he welcomed the positive result of
    the Irish
    Nice referendum it had become apparent that a very small number of people could halt progress on
    issues. "This is something we need to discuss when looking at voting systems," he said, adding that
    few cases would be left for vetoes and that a qualified or "superqualified" majority vote would be

    Legal personality
    Proposals to involve national parliaments in the legislative process by checking EU laws in terms of

    subsidiarity had been met positively, he said. The proposals include an "early warning system"
    member states indicate to the European Commission when they feel that legislation would be better
    with at the national level.

    He referred to the general support for a single legal personality as a "major innovation". Mr
    Giscard is in
    favour of merging the existing European treaties, a major task to simplify the texts into a single

    The Convention chairman said that of the existing 414 articles in the EU treaties, around half –
    referring to the Single Market and Economic and Monetary Union – could be maintained. Slight
    are necessary for 136 articles to adapt them to the functioning of the new institutions, and 73 will
    have to
    be totally rewritten to reflect the merger into a single legal personality.

    He admitted that ratification of this new text would be a complex issue both legally and
    politically. The
    matter has not yet been debated.

    Religious provision
    Mr Giscard will be meeting with the Pope in Rome next week to discuss the concerns of the church
    about its
    status and the legal recognition of religious organisations. The Convention President said that
    there may be
    some provision for religion in the body or preamble of a future Constitutional text.

    Written by Nicola Smith
    Edited by Lisbeth Kirk

    Article published 24.10.2002 - 23:55 CET
    Printed from EUobserver 26.10.2002

    Copyright EUobserver 2000, 2001, 2002
    The information may be used for personal and non-commercial use only
    This article and related links can be found at:
    Giscard's big idea legally questionable

    Two weeks ago, Cambridge Law Professor Alan Dashwood published
    a draft constitution for a future Europe. Some three months in the
    making and having the tacit approval of the British government, it
    was seen as a smart move by the UK to influence the on-going
    debate in the Convention on the Future of Europe at a crucial stage.
    It clearly outlines a limitation of the Union’s powers in favour of the
    member states, provides an "implicit" answer to the 60,000 euro
    question of who should be the president of a future Europe, and
    presents a new overall structure for a constitution.

    In an interview with the EUobserver, Professor Dashwood answers
    some of his critics, ponders the legal merits of Convention
    president Valéry Giscard d’Estaing’s recent idea for a new Europe
    system, and explains why his treaty "structure" is "one of the best"on offer.

    One time ratification of new constitution legally impossible?
    "From what I have read, I don’t understand from a legal point of view how that could be achieved,"
    said the
    legal expert, offering a preliminary interpretation of Convention president Valéry Giscard
    d’Estaing’s recent
    idea to create a new "system" with the European constitution, which member states would have one
    to ratify or be out.

    "If you don’t ratify the new treaty then the old treaty continues to apply," and it is impossible to
    get to the
    "new situation until the existing treaties are amended and that requires everybody to agree." There
    is no
    "legal way," elaborated Professor Dashwood, "except by a political revolution, of introducing a new
    set of
    rules under which people who don’t agree to a treaty find themselves on the outside."

    Simply a "non-federalist" text
    Professor Dashwood’s text received criticism from both the eurofederalist and the eurosceptic camp.
    federalist’s accused him of not addressing the democratic deficit issues and leaving important
    questions unanswered. The democratic deficit was a "political problem" and not an "institutional"
    one. A
    Commission president to head the EU elected by the European Parliament, proposed by federalists and
    small member states alike, would confer "spurious legitimacy" upon the post and would politicise it.

    Following the line of their big allies in this debate, France and Spain, this draft constitution
    tacitly approved
    by the UK government, implies that a Council president, elected by the member states, should guide a

    future EU.

    However, his text also received criticism from the eurosceptics for the inclusion of "loyal
    cooperation" on
    the part of the member states as a principle of the Union. "Simply nonsense" he retorts to claims
    that this
    will eat away at the sovereignty of the member states. It is simply a "balance" as the other
    subsidiarity and proportionality, stress the limitation of the Union’s powers. In fact, it is
    something, "which
    eurosceptics ought to like."

    "Even a federalist could learn something from my structure"
    "Whatever about the content …even a federalist could learn from my structure" insists Professor
    of his text, which is laid out in three parts. A constitutional part, an institutional part and a
    third –
    intergovernmental – part on "enhanced co-operation." The last of which "leaves the door open" for
    cooperation in defence. "This structure … is the best on offer" at the moment. "I hope it will give
    some ideas
    to those working in the Convention," concludes the Professor.

    The text was drawn up by Alan Dashwood, Michael Dougan, Christophe Hillion, Angus Johnston and
    Spaventa. Although not an official UK government text per se, it was drawn up after consulting
    officials in
    the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

    Written by Honor Mahony ,Edited by Lisbeth Kirk
    Article published 24.10.2002 - 15:11 CET
    Printed from EUobserver 26.10.2002
    Copyright EUobserver 2000, 2001, 2002
    The information may be used for personal and non-commercial use only
    This article and related links can be found at:

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