Thursday, January 19, 2006

European Constitution: 2nd time around

During the period preceding the French referendum on the European Constitution some of us warned that voting against the Constitution might strengthen the forces which are opposing further enlargement of the Union. Quentin Peel, in an Financial Times comment 18th January 2006, argues,

Whether you call it a constitution or not, changes in the EU system of governance are essential to enable the union to accept any new member states beyond the two – Bulgaria and Romania – that have already been given the green light. Without reform, forget membership for Croatia or any other part of former Yugoslavia. Forget about Turkey and Ukraine. An EU of 27 states will be the end of the road.”

At present, Peel suggest quoting the December 2005 Eurobarometer, 49% of the Europeans support renegotiating the constitution, 22% prefer simply continuing with the present ratification procedure, while 13% prefer the Constitution to be killed. There is space for hope…in order to fulfil its integration promise to the Balkans, The European Union needs to adopt a new constitutional structure in one way ore another. Otherwise it risks a general deterioration of the political and economic situation in this region, a move that in the long run, goes directly against the interests of the European Union as a whole and most of the Member States. The Thessalonica European Council Promise to the Western Balkans must be fulfilled, EU must proceed with the enlargement.

What are the chances of proceeding with the work on the European Constitution, Peel mentions the proposal coming from the French Minister and UMP Leader Sarkozy,

“Mr Sarkozy’s proposal is for renegotiation of the constitution to reduce the reforms to an essential core of rules (in the present part I), and a charter of rights (part II). All the detailed regulations in part III, giving effect to the single market and free movement of labour, capital, goods and services (the bits that most alarmed French voters), would be hived off into a separate text. Then, he argues, there really would not be any need for another French referendum: ratification could be done by the national assembly.”

1 comment:

Euan MacDonald said...

Interesting, Srdj; but I would probably count myself among the 13% who would like to see the Constitution killed off. For me, the most interesting point is that introduced by Peel in the first sentence that you quote, almost as a throwaway: "whether you call it a constitution or not". The point is that governance procedures existed within the Europe long before people started talking about "constitutionalisation"; and the institutional problems facing enlargement can be solved without taking on the baggage that that term inevitably brings with it.

The reason that so many are keen for the instutional reform to be carried out within a "constitutional" framework is that they actively want the baggage; and they seek to force it through by making the prospects for enlargement dependent on it. It would, I think, be much easier to gain acceptance for a workable proposal for the necessary institutional reform if we drop the term "constitution", precisely because that term does not come alone. Those who support enlargement need not also support the constitution, despite what supporters of the latter seem desperate to have us believe...