23rd Jun 2017

Austria gives peek into June 'constitution summit'

Stressing popular values like sexual equality and daring new projects like a European fire brigade could help revive the EU constitution, Austrian leader Wolfgang Schussel said on Tuesday (9 May).

The pro-constitution chancellor set out his stall in a Brussels debate on the future of Europe just five weeks before the Austrian presidency chairs a 15-16 June summit set to be dominated by the frozen EU charter.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

"The constitution treaty is the most successful attempt we've had so far to build on the achievements of the past 50 years," he said. "The way things stand, I don't see a better option."

The chancellor contrasted the fact that 16 member states support the constitution with the two French and Dutch rejections last year, hitting a more positive note than the European Commission, which described the satus quo as "lack of consensus among member states."

The best way to rebuild public support for the draft EU charter is to highlight that it has "enshrined" values such as gender equality "which are the sacred legacy of the European Union," Mr Schussel stated.

"A lot of the issues our citizens want us to deal with have already been dealt with," he explained. "This social dimension of Europe, which would be guaranteed by our constitution, I deem of crucial and vital importance."

Roadmap summit

On top of this, the June summit should set out a "roadmap for seven or eight projects with concrete timetables" that have "symbolic resonance" in Europe's coffee house and kitchen sink political debate.

"We need to show that Europe is acting together," the chancellor indicated, envisioning European firefighters working together on Mediterranean forest blazes in line with a new report on crisis management by ex-French foreign minister Michel Barnier.

Mr Schussel admitted that 2005 was "catastrophic" for the EU in public opinion terms, setting the stakes high for the future of Europe debate:

"If we don't win over the public to this project, then Europe has come to an end."

But he saw room for optimism in the latest "schizophrenic" Eurobarometer survey which showed that, while fewer than half of people like being in the EU, two thirds see it as a peaceful and modern place to live.

"Something is happening in the [public] subconscious that is not being taken into account at the rational level," he said.

French MEPs in fresh fake jobs scandal

Revelations in France are surfacing that centrist MEPs from the Democratic Movement may have unlawfully used EU parliament funds to pay assistants working for the national political party.

News in Brief

  1. EU leaders renew vows to uphold Paris climate deal
  2. US issues warrant for VW managers, German media say
  3. EU extends sanctions against Russia
  4. Merkel denies Franco-German deal on EU agencies
  5. Dutch PM: Turkey is upholding migration deal
  6. Britain to outline rights of UK-based EU citizens
  7. Tusk can 'imagine' the UK still remaining in EU
  8. Norway offers more blocks for Arctic oil exploration

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EGBAOnline Gambling: The EU Court Rejects Closed Licensing Regimes In Member States
  2. World VisionFaces of Today, Leaders of Tomorrow: Join the Debate on Violence Against Girls - 29 June
  3. ECR GroupThe EU Must Better Protect Industry from Unfair Competition
  4. Malta EU 2017Better Protection for Workers From Cancer-Causing Substances
  5. EPSUAfter 9 Years of Austerity Europe's Public Sector Workers Deserve a Pay Rise!
  6. Dialogue PlatformGlobalised Religions and the Dialogue Imperative. Join the Debate!
  7. UNICEFEU Trust Fund Contribution to UNICEF's Syria Crisis Response Reaches Nearly €200 Million
  8. EUSEW17Bringing Buildings Into the Circular Economy. Discuss at EU Sustainable Energy Week
  9. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceCan an Ideal Body Weight Lead to Premature Death?
  10. Malta EU 2017End of Roaming Charges: What Does It Entail?
  11. World VisionWorld Refugee Day, a Dark Reminder of the Reality of Children on the Move
  12. European Social Services ConferenceDriving innovation in the social sector – 26-28 June

Latest News

  1. Decision on post-Brexit home for EU agencies postponed
  2. May's offer on citizens’ rights dismissed as ‘pathetic’
  3. 'Historic' defence plan gets launch date at EU summit
  4. EU pressures firms to tackle online terrorism
  5. Lack of eligible candidates dogs EU relocation scheme
  6. Border management going virtual
  7. Tusk hints UK could stay in EU, if it wanted
  8. Merkel, Orban and the not quite closed Balkan route