The Bureau of the Union of European Federalists (UEF) welcomes the presentation by the Convention Praesidium of the draft of first articles of the Constitutional Treaty. The debate on the future political direction of the European Union will now become more concrete. The draft can serve as a basis for further progress towards a federal Constitution but is currently not sufficient for meeting the challenges of an enlarged EU in a globalized world.
In its Article 1, the draft Constitution instead of basing itself on the will of the peoples and the States of Europe, only very weakly “reflects” this will. This formula reveals the resistance to the idea of going from a Union of States to a Union of Citizens. Furthermore “to administer certain common competences on a federal basis” is insufficient. All common competences should be governed on the basis of the federal method including co-legislation of the European Parliament and the Council, majority voting within the Council and the European Commission acting as the Government of the Union.
In order to underline that the main purpose of the federal Union is to serve the citizens, the Charter of Fundamental Rights should be fully incorporated into the Constitution or even head it. It should not be relegated to the second part or to a protocol annexed to the Constitution.
Provisions on Union’s competences show a vision which is still too intergovernmental. The Union’s competence order proposed by the draft articles should be further clarified and the Union’s competences should be strengthened :
· Not only Common commercial policy but External economic policy must be an exclusive Union’s competences with representation in WTO, IMF and other international institutions;
· The Constitution should contain a clear EU competence for Common Foreign, Security and Defence Policy, which should become an exclusive Union’s competence after a transitional period, as with the provisions in the Maastricht Treaty for the Monetary Union.
The UEF expects that the drafting work of the Convention Praesidium in future better to respect the consensus emerging from the Convention plenary debates. The Convention’s institutional debate at the end of January overwhelmingly supported the idea of an election of the Commission President by the European Parliament. The upcoming draft articles on European institutions must reflect this consensus.