Institutional Affairs

Youth Convention calls for a federal constitution

13.07.02 @ 12:55

  1. By Sharon Spiteri

The declaration adopted by the Youth Convention calls for a federal constitution with the inclusion of the Charter of Fundamental Human Rights, which would be legally binding, a clearer division of competencies and a renewed institutional structure of Europe, in which the youth of Europe have a stronger say. They also say that a fully democratic framework should be established on a federal parliamentary system. The Youth Convention demands that their recommendations be included in the working group discussion of the EU Convention, as otherwise this gathering will have been little more than a PR stunt.

Dehaene: Convention will study the document

  • GIACOMO FILIBECK - Youth Convention President: "Europe cannot proceed if we go on with unanimity and consensus. We need to be brave enough to confront each other with different opinions, finding a compromise or the majority solution." (Photo: European Commission)

The vice-president of the Convention Jean-Luc Dehaene said that the EU Convention will take the necessary time to study the document. "I think there is a parallelism on what is currently carried out in the Convention, although the Youth Convention has taken a radical approach. I don't think this document will be lost," Mr Dehaene said. The President of the Youth Convention Giacomo Filibeck said, "we did not want to reproduce the same speech and political games like the Senior Convention," he said.

Although the Youth Convention is stressing that there should be a follow up session where the conclusion of the EU Convention could also be analysed, there seems to be a problem of funding to organise a second session. "Three days is not enough. This document should not be the final and only one", Giacomo Filibeck said. Vice-president Jean-Luc Dehaene failed to give a definite reply, saying simply "We have to see if we will do other initiatives."

More power to the EU on Foreign Policy

The Constitution as pictured by the Youth Convention, should have a merging of the three pillars of the EU "to ensure an integrated EU-policy in all fields of politics." Foreign Policy must become an exclusive competence of the EU, where decisions are taken democratically by the European Parliament and the Council. Their declaration also states that there should be a single Commissioner for Foreign Affairs who will execute the common policy.

The Youth Convention also urges the development of a defence identity. However, they clearly point out that no member state should be forced against its will to participate in any European defence structure and say that the EU should respect the right of any member state to participate in international co-operation agreements external to the Union.

Radical change of EU institutional set-up

The Declaration adopted by the Youth Convention, also declares that the European Parliament, seen as the only directly democratically elected body, should co-decide in all fields of politics, with full budgetary competence and the right of initiative. It also demands that Brussels be the only residence of the European Parliament and calls to bring to an and the Strasbourg plenary sessions. Furthermore, the European Parliament should have the right to propose and elect the President of the European Commission, and should have the power to remove individual Commissioners and to impeach the Commission President.

Council: right of veto should be banned

The Youth Convention proposes that the Council should meet in public and should include the participation of the constitutional regions, in agreement with the member states. Moreover, they propose that the Council should be reformed in a second chamber and decide jointly with the European Parliament on EU-legislation. A controversial point highlighted in the text is that when decisions concern sensitive areas, they should be carried out with a double majority of states and people. They also propose the banning of veto rights in the decision-making system of the Union.

More transparency

It is proposed that the European Commission be transformed into a true European executive, fully accountable to the Parliament and Council. All matters within the competence of the Union should be subject to the Court of Justice, where every citizen would have the right to approach it. Moreover they demand that the results of the Convention be ratified through a European referendum.

Clear and transparent distribution of competencies

The Youth Convention also calls for a clear distribution of competencies between the Union and the national level in the European constitution, so as to make the people understand where and which responsibilities are located and how they can contribute to the political process. This distribution of competencies should be guided by the principle of subsidiarity. They also demand that special attention should be paid to respect the impact of less populous member states.