27th Mar 2017

UK should help kill off EU constitution, MPs say

  • Westminster: some MPs do not want commission "ambassadors" abroad (Photo: wikipedia)

A group of cross-party British parliamentarians have urged their government to end the "paralysis" surrounding the EU constitution by encouraging other states to bin the document.

The foreign affairs committee of the UK's House of Commons, made up of Labour, Conservative and Liberal-democrat parliamentarians, in a report dated 19 July concluded that "although the [Constitutional] Treaty is not dead, it is comatose and on life support."

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.

"We conclude that the Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe is unlikely ever to come into force, although attempts may be made to enact some of its provisions by other means," the MPs wrote after hearing various UK officials over recent developments in the EU.

"We recommend that the government encourage its European counterparts to face up to this reality and explicitly to abandon the Treaty as a package."

The UK government led by prime minister Tony Blair has so far refrained from a firm public stance on the fate of the EU constitution after French and Dutch voters rejected the charter last year.

London has put plans for a referendum on the text on ice, but has not sided with The Hague which has declared the constitution "dead" or with those states pushing for a revival of the charter, such as Germany or Spain.

It is widely believed that London would not resist a slow starving off of the document however, with the chances of a positive outcome of a British referendum on the constitution seen as marginal.

In their report, the MPs also attacked attempts to implement key ideas of the constitution one by one, referred to in Brussels as "cherry-picking."

The report firmly rejects recent European Commission proposals to eliminate national vetoes in justice and police cooperation, through the so-called "passerelle" or "bridging" clauses in the current EU treaties.

These proposals, set to be discussed by justice ministers in September, have so far been cautiously welcomed by UK officials, but the House of Commons members write that "we oppose attempts to use the bridging clauses in the current treaties to introduce core objectives of the constitutional Treaty in the field of justice and home affairs."

Attempts to "cherry pick" and revive another key part of the constitution - the creation of an EU foreign minister post together with an EU diplomatic service - also caused alarm among the deputies.

"We conclude that, whatever the merits of the proposal to establish a foreign minister and an external action service for the EU, it is important that the European Commission should not develop a diplomatic service or ‘embassies' by stealth."

"We recommend that the government take steps to prevent the official use of the term 'ambassador' to refer to the commission's representatives," says the report.

The commission in a June paper put the EU consular service back on the agenda by proposing to exchange more personnel with diplomatic services of member states and by suggesting that "the EU should give further consideration to sharing of premises and support services for member state and EU external representations in third countries."


From Bratislava to Rome: Little more than a show of unity

The so-called Bratislava process of reflection for the EU came to an end on Saturday, but there were few tangible results that citizens could take away from the soul-searching. Despite that, unity among the EU-27 has been maintained.

Rome summit tries to restart EU momentum

EU 27 leaders in Rome to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the signing of Treaty of Rome, in bid to counter rising challenges after Brexit. But new ideas are scarce.

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.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Belgrade Security ForumCall for Papers: European Union as a Global Crisis Manager - Deadline 30 April
  2. European Gaming & Betting Association60 Years Rome Treaty – 60 Years Building an Internal Market
  3. Malta EU 2017New EU Rules to Prevent Terrorism and Give More Rights to Victims Approved
  4. European Jewish Congress"Extremists Still Have Ability and Motivation to Murder in Europe" Says EJC President
  5. European Gaming & Betting AssociationAudiovisual Media Services Directive to Exclude Minors from Gambling Ads
  6. ILGA-EuropeTime for a Reality Check on International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
  7. UNICEFHuman Cost to Refugee and Migrant Children Mounts Up One Year After EU-Turkey Deal
  8. Malta EU 2017Council Adopts New Rules to Improve Safety of Medical Devices
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Energy Research: How to Reach 100 Percent Renewable Energy
  10. Party of European SocialistsWe Must Renew Europe for All Europeans
  11. MEP Tomáš ZdechovskýThe European Commission Has Failed in Its Fight Against Food Waste
  12. ILGA-EuropeEP Recognises Discrimination Faced by Trans & Intersex People