21st Mar 2018

EU leaders abandon constitution deadline

  • "We reaffirmed that there is no alternative to this constitution", said the commission president (Photo: European Commission)

EU leaders meeting in Brussels have agreed a "period of reflection" on the constitution amid fears that a knock-on effect would mean the document would be rejected in countries still planning to have referendums.

Governments are to come together in one year, under the Austrian EU presidency, to take stock of the situation.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

However, they stressed that the constitution itself will not be renegotiated and that ratification will continue.

Announcing the decision, Luxembourg prime minister and current head of the EU Jean-Claude Juncker said "we all believe that the constitution is the right answer to the many questions of the European people.

"We believe ratification must continue".

But it will be up to national governments when to ratify and how - with the process not likely to be ended before mid-2007, according to Mr Juncker.

The current deadline of end of October 2006 "is no longer tenable" said the prime minister who stressed that countries that want to ratify the document via their parliaments may do so while member states planning to have referendums "will decide autonomously when those referendums are to be organised".

Luxembourg under the spotlight

As the next country to have a referendum, on 10 July, Luxembourg comes under the immediate spotlight.

But it is not up to Mr Juncker to postpone the planned referendum - with recent polls showing the No side gaining ground - as this has to be decided by the country's parliament.

Luxembourg MPs must "decide if further debate is required" said Mr Juncker adding that he cannot "prejudge" their decision.

Other countries have already indicated that they will postpone their decision - effectively putting ratification on ice.

Denmark's Anders Fogh Rasmussen said that his country's referendum, planned for 27 September, will be postponed until there is more "clarity" but did not set a new date.

Meanwhile, an Irish government spokesperson indicated that Dublin is also considering postponing its referendum, which had been set to take place in the autumn.

The UK had put it referendum plans on ice already while the Czech Republic and Portugal are planning to.

Only Poland has committed itself to pressing ahead with a referendum on 9 October.

So far, ten countries have ratified the constitution, two have rejected it - France and the Netherlands - and 13 still have yet to ratify it.

Referring to the French and Dutch No, Mr Juncker said "I really believe neither the French nor the Dutch rejected the constitutional treaty", adding that "unfortunately, the electorate did not realise that the constitutional treaty was specifically aimed at meeting their concerns and that's why we need to have a period of explanation to explain this to our citizens".

Europe will not stop

Legally, the constitution can only come into force if all 25 member states have ratified it - meaning that Paris and The Hague would have to put the document to their people once more.

While the rejections in both countries are still too fresh, there could be a possibility to put it to another referendum in France after the 2007 elections, when there may be a new French leader.

But Mr Juncker denied that this thought had figured when he mentioned that ratification wil take at least until mid-2007.

European commission president Jose Manuel Barroso said "Europe's not going to stop" adding that "the EU has to meet citizens' expectations in Europe".

Commission rejects ombudsman criticism over Barroso case

The European Commission repeated that it followed the rules when its former head joined Goldman Sachs - and suggested it will not follow the EU Ombudsman's demand to refer the case back to the ethics committee.

News in Brief

  1. EU to have 'immediate' trade talks with Trump
  2. Separatist activist renounces Catalonia leadership candidacy
  3. EU puts conditions on Bayer-Monsanto merger
  4. Hard Brexit would hit poorer Irish households hardest
  5. Finland hosts secretive North Korean talks
  6. EU to unveil 3% tax on digital giants
  7. German elected S&D leader in European Parliament
  8. Germany: nearly €350m child benefit goes abroad

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EUobserverStart a Career in EU Media. Apply Now to Become Our Next Sales Associate
  2. EUobserverHiring - Finance Officer With Accounting Degree or Experience - Apply Now!
  3. ECR GroupAn Opportunity to Help Shape a Better Future for Europe
  4. Counter BalanceControversial Turkish Azerbaijani Gas Pipeline Gets Major EU Loan
  5. World VisionSyria’s Children ‘At Risk of Never Fully Recovering', New Study Finds
  6. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMeets with US Congress Member to Denounce Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  7. Martens CentreEuropean Defence Union: Time to Aim High?
  8. UNESDAWatch UNESDA’s President Toast Its 60th Anniversary Year
  9. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Condemns MEP Ana Gomes’s Anti-Semitic Remark, Calls for Disciplinary Action
  10. EPSUEU Commissioners Deny 9.8 Million Workers Legal Minimum Standards on Information Rights
  11. ACCAAppropriate Risk Management is Crucial for Effective Strategic Leadership
  12. EPSUWill the Circular Economy be an Economy With no Workers?

Latest News

  1. EU leaders set for 'stormy debate' on digital tax at summit
  2. EU praises Turkey on migrant deal despite Greek misery
  3. Judicial reforms 'restore balance', Poland tells EU
  4. Whistleblower fears for life as US arrests Malta bank chair
  5. Behind the scenes at Monday's EU talks on Russia
  6. US yet to push on Nord Stream 2 sanctions
  7. EU mulls coercion to get refugee kids' fingerprints
  8. Five east European states prevent new CAP consensus