28th Nov 2023

MEPs to vote on constitution salvage plan

MEPs will next week debate a report that is aimed at salvaging the EU constitution, and forming a clear decision byt the end of 2007 on how its core parts should be ratified despite last year's "no" votes in France and the Netherlands.

The two co-rapporteurs of the European Parliament's constitutional affairs committee, the UK liberal Andrew Duff and the Austrian Green Johannes Voggenhuber, on Friday (13 January) joined the choir of EU leaders expressing their opinion over the fate of the text since the beginning of this year.

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  • The reflection period should be "brought to an end in the second half of 2007 with a clear decision how to proceed with the constitution" (Photo: EUobserver)

The MEPs described the interventions so far as "simplistic" and presented instead a report setting out a specific roadmap for the resuscitation of the constitution in a revised form.

The Duff-Voggenhuber report, on which the parliament will vote on Thursday, proposes to intensify the so-called period of reflection on the constitution, agreed by EU leaders after French and Dutch voters rejected the text in referendums last year.

According to the plan, the European Parliament will this year and next year together with national parliaments promote a series of parliamentary forums, which the MEPs hope will be echoed by a series of national debates.

The reflection period should then be "brought to an end in the second half of 2007 with a clear decision how to proceed with the constitution".

The MEPs urge the plenary session of parliament to adopt their call for a "revision process" of the present constitutional text, which "nevertheless respects the constitutional core".

"The eventual constitution will have to be modified", they said in a statement.

Mr Duff suggested to EUobserver that for example, as a means of wooing Dutch voters, provisions on the stability pact (the rules underpinning the euro) could be enforced, and accession criteria for new member states clarified in the constitutional text.

2009 EU-wide poll

After negotiations on improvements in 2008, a revised text should be put to European citizens in an EU-wide consultative referendum on the same day as the European elections in 2009.

The call for modification of the current constitutional text is set to be one controversial aspect of the parliamentary debate on the Duff-Voggenhuber report next week, with many MEPs still demanding the salvation of the entire current text, perhaps clarified with interpretative annexes.

German leader Angela Merkel has proposed attaching a declaration on the "social dimension of Europe" in a bid to save the charter in its entirety.

French president Jacques Chirac, by contrast, has urged closer co-operation in individual policy areas covered by the constitution.

The Dutch foreign minister Bernard Bot has said the constitution is "dead", after the Austrian leader Wolfgang Schussel declared that it is "not dead", but "in the middle of a ratification process."


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