Sunday

3rd Mar 2024

Spain pushes for extended EU constitution

In a speech to open the 'Friends of EU constitution' meeting in Madrid, Spain's foreign minister Miguel Angel Moratinos argued that any revised treaty should be extended to include more European objectives rather than pared down to just institutional reforms.

Delegates from the 18 countries that have ratified the EU constitution plus its strong supporters - Ireland and Portugal - have gathered in a cultural centre - usually used for hosting events related to Latin America - to outline their positions on the future of the European treaty.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Get the EU news that really matters

Instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

In line with the motto of the meeting and the key idea to be highlighted in the forthcoming statement - "Por una Europa mejor", for a better Europe, Mr Moratinos reiterated that the current treaty is an "excellent document".

"We have met here to have our voice heard. Because it cannot be simply ignored that 18 countries ratified this constitution and some of them even after the negative outcome of referendums in France and the Netherlands."

Luxembourg's Europe minister Nicolas Schmit - representing the country that adopted the constitution by popular vote following the French and Dutch polls - said "I am convinced that we all should be in position to back the project that takes us forward."

For his part, Mr Moratinos said that while a debate about possible changes to the form and content of the constitution often boils down to statements suggesting that only the core of the text should be retained, "not everybody views this core and what constitutes it in the same way."

"We all agree that the union requires institutional reforms in order to adapt to enlargement. These reforms are necessary, but far from sufficient to ensure the future of the union."

He went on to suggest that Spain prefers a "bold proposal, though not a rushed one" rather than a proposal aimed at the lowest common denominator, with several delegates - such as Belgium's secretary of European affairs - set to suggest that the current constitution already represents a "minimum minimorum".

Mr Moratinos proposed that a new extended text could include provisions on subjects such as enlargement criteria, immigration, energy, climate change, defence policy and a European social space.

"It is clear we will probably need to negotiate its [the constitution's] modification. But Spain would seek to complete it rather than piece it up."

However, during a debate following his speech, most of the delegates maintained that any future modifications should be just minimal.

Don't touch this text

"We are all firmly behind this text, so don't touch it - that was the main message from most delegations," one observer told EUobserver.

"Also, almost everybody called for the two countries that have seen a negative referendum outcome to say clearly what their position is."

He added that most countries also highlighted their support for the German presidency and its plan to salvage the constitution by 2009, while stressing that today's meeting was not supposed to divide Europe into two camps.

Asked by journalists if he was bothered that the meeting was being attended only by lower-level officials, Spain's foreign minister said this was his country's plan from the start.

Analysis

Almost 20 names in running for EU top jobs

With four months until the European Parliament elections, there are already some 20 names in the hat for the ensuing reshuffle of EU top jobs.

EUobserved

New government in Belfast is much ado about not much

The deal to restore Northern Ireland's government — after nearly two years — is being spun as a major triumph. But not much has changed. This is an exercise in fine-tuning and political window-dressing.

'Outdated' rules bar MEP from entering plenary with child

During a plenary session in Strasbourg, an MEP was denied access to the chamber because he was carrying his young child, due to unforeseen circumstances. The episode shows parliament's rules need to be updated, several MEPs told EUobserver.

EU Commission clears Poland's access to up to €137bn EU funds

The European Commission has legally paved the way for Poland to access up to €137bn EU funds, following Donald Tusk's government's efforts to strengthen the independence of their judiciary and restore the rule of law in the country.

Latest News

  1. EU docks €32m in funding to UN Gaza agency pending audit
  2. 'Outdated' rules bar MEP from entering plenary with child
  3. Commission plays down row over Rwanda minerals pact
  4. EU socialists set to anoint placeholder candidate
  5. Why are the banking lobby afraid of a digital euro?
  6. Deepfake dystopia — Russia's disinformation in Spain and Italy
  7. Putin's nuclear riposte to Macron fails to impress EU diplomats
  8. EU won't yet commit funding UN agency in Gaza amid hunger

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersJoin the Nordic Food Systems Takeover at COP28
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersHow women and men are affected differently by climate policy
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersArtist Jessie Kleemann at Nordic pavilion during UN climate summit COP28
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP28: Gathering Nordic and global experts to put food and health on the agenda
  5. Friedrich Naumann FoundationPoems of Liberty – Call for Submission “Human Rights in Inhume War”: 250€ honorary fee for selected poems
  6. World BankWorld Bank report: How to create a future where the rewards of technology benefit all levels of society?

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Georgia Ministry of Foreign AffairsThis autumn Europalia arts festival is all about GEORGIA!
  2. UNOPSFostering health system resilience in fragile and conflict-affected countries
  3. European Citizen's InitiativeThe European Commission launches the ‘ImagineEU’ competition for secondary school students in the EU.
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region is stepping up its efforts to reduce food waste
  5. UNOPSUNOPS begins works under EU-funded project to repair schools in Ukraine
  6. Georgia Ministry of Foreign AffairsGeorgia effectively prevents sanctions evasion against Russia – confirm EU, UK, USA

Join EUobserver

EU news that matters

Join us