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5th Mar 2024

Vienna unveils EU constitution action plan

Draft conclusions on the EU constitution on Thursday evening (15 June) steer carefully between member states' sensitivities, confirming a 2009 deadline for an ill-defined "reform process."

The draft, seen by EUobserver, says the "reflection period" - agreed by EU leaders a year ago after France and the Netherlands voted "no" to the constitution - should be extended.

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"The reflection period has overall been useful in enabling the union to assess the concerns and worries expressed in the course of the ratification process," says the document.

The European Council, the formal body of heads of state and government, "considers that, in parallel with the ongoing ratification process, further work, building on what has been achieved since last June, is needed before decisions on the future of the Constitutional Treaty can be taken."

The text proposed by the Austrian EU presidency tasks Germany, which will be at the EU's helm in the first half of 2007, with making the first concrete proposals on ending the current stalemate.

"A report will be presented by the presidency to the European Council in June 2007, based on extensive consultations with member states. This report should contain an assessment of the state of discussion with regard to the Constitutional Treaty to explore possible future developments."

Before 2009, the EU should see a consensus on institutional reform, according to the draft.

"The report will subsequently be examined by Heads of State and Government. The outcome of this examination will serve as the basis for further decisions on how to continue the reform process, it being the understood that the necessary steps to that effect will have been taken during the second semester of 2008 at the latest."

The European Commission appears also to have scored a small victory in Vienna's proposed text.

Wolfgang Schussel, the Austrian chancellor, will propose to EU leaders to follow up on a proposal by commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso to celebrate the union's 50th birthday next year by issuing a declaration on the EU's values.

"The European Council calls for the adoption, on 25 March 2007 in Berlin, of a political declaration by EU leaders, setting out Europe's values and ambitions and confirming their shared commitment to deliver them, commemorating 50 years of the Treaties of Rome," according to the conclusions.

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