25th Mar 2017

Constitution attacked by former presidium member

A former member of the small influential team, which drew up the European Constitution, has strongly criticised the way decisions were made during the 16 months of work on the text.

Gisela Stuart, a UK labour MP and member of the 13-strong team around the Constitution's architect Valéry Giscard d'Estaing, has vented her anger in the UK’s Sunday Times.

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"There was little time for informed discussion, and even less scope for changes. Large parts of the text passed through without detailed discussions", she writes.

She has a litany of complaints including criticism of Mr Giscard's methods, the fact that preliminary texts were only available in French and that there appeared to be a hierarchy when it came to whose words mattered.

"Consensus was achieved among those deemed to matter, who made it plain that the rest would not be allowed to wreck the fragile agreement struck", she writes.

"Some members of the secretariat showed particular irritation with my insistence that documents be produced in English. On one occasion a redraft of articles dealing with defence mysteriously arrived just before midnight. They were written in French and the authorship was unclear. Verbal reassurances were given that this was little more than a "linguistically better draft of the earlier English version". The draft was discarded when some of us spotted that references to Nato had mysteriously disappeared".

She finishes the article by saying that if some EU governments fail to ratify the Constitution, it will not matter as the EU can survive without it.

"Should a country, or several countries, fail to endorse the constitution, the EU will not collapse - the previous treaties remain and the accession of new countries still goes ahead.

"The [UK] government does not have to accept it", she urges.

Her comments come just a few days before EU governments meet in Brussels to finalise the EU Constitution.

Two new books on the Convention

Will Mr Giscard succeed in having a place in the history as the father of a European Constitution? Two new books on the Convention offer some elements of explanation and many interesting details of the discussions that eventually led to the draft EU Constitution.

Ombudsman probes secret Council lawmaking

Emily O'Reilly has launched an inquiry into whether the EU Council, where member states are represented, allows sufficient public scrutiny of the drafting of laws.

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