29th Jan 2023

1000 amendments to first treaty articles

"They're pouring in," admits the spokesperson for the Convention's steering committee, the presidium. The 13-member body putting together the articles for a future EU constitution has been inundated with over 1000 amendments to the first 16 draft articles.

Presented to Convention members two weeks ago, delegates are continuing to submit proposals for changes even after the deadline of last Monday evening.

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Anxious to play down the enormous logistical burden this means, spokesman Nikolaus Meyer-Landrut said that "numerically" this is "not very important." He stressed that for the overwhelming majority, the "presidium's text remains the basis for work."

Flowing ink

Suggestions for changes touch on all manner of subjects, from mentioning the rights of indigenous people, to asking for more social Europe, to questioning the role of the regions to suggestions about how to draft legal articles.

Article one alone has elicited huge response on whether people, citizens or just nation states should be mentioned. The exact meaning of 'federal' has also caused much ink to flow.

Currently the French MEP William Abitol is one of the very few suggesting a completely different structure to that proposed by the presidium.

Enough of the speeches

The Convention will debate the articles together for the first time next week. The speaking time will be reduced to allow "more people to speak" and allow more spontaneous discussion to occur during the session. Delegates will be given a list of the suggested amendments for particular articles by the presidium. Changes to the 16 articles will only be made after the plenary debate on the 26 and 27 February.

But this session will not see the end of the debate on these articles. There will "certainly be areas where discussion will have to continue," said Mr Meyer-Landrut. And this raises questions, given the Convention's tight deadline, on how to organise the work in the coming weeks.

Proposal to Convention to meet more often

"The amount of work is huge," a presidium member told the EUobserver. "How we're going to deal with things when we come to institutional questions, I don't know." Certain presidium members, among them Klaus Haensch, a German socialist MEP, have called for both bodies to meet more often.

Speaking to the EUobserver, he said there "may be a proposal to the Convention" on this matter. He added that "it is the intention of the presidium to have additional meetings for itself and the Convention - but this depends on the debate next week."

For the moment, however, there is relief that article four, on establishing the Union's legal personality, has seen "practically no amendments." Well - only five to date.

Convention needs to hurry up, says Hänsch

"The work of the Convention has to be accelerated and intensified," said presidium member Klaus Hänsch in an interview with the EUobserver. According to the German MEP (PSE), "additional meetings in both the plenary and the presidium" are needed. The treaty will contain an article allowing "controlled flexibility" for the Union while references to religion will follow the Charter of Fundamental Rights. A separate presidium member confirmed that the Union's powers in economic governance will not be extended - something which the Commission has strongly pushed for.


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