Monday

19th Aug 2019

Liberal MEP tables 'Plan B' for EU constitution

  • climate change: Mr Duff wants to put issues that concern Europeans into a new constitution (Photo: wikipedia)

Over one year after the constitution was rejected in two referendums, ideas and plans are slowly emerging on how to revive the document with one influential MEP suggesting a new-look version should include articles on issues like climate change which are of direct concern to EU citizens.

UK liberal MEP Andrew Duff will on Wednesday (18 October) present his "Plan B: how to rescue the European Constitution" amid a re-emerging debate across Europe on the fate of the charter after French and Dutch voters rejected it in 2005.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

"We are now at two years on since the signing of the constitution," he told EUobserver. "It is about time we pressed on with Plan B."

In the rescue plan, the MEP staunchly defends the core of the existing EU constitution text – part I on institutional reform and part II on fundamental rights - while making the document more attractive to citizens by adding provisions which specifically address their concerns.

"We have to try to understand the causes of the disaffection which was expressed in France and the Netherlands and elsewhere," he said.

"I think if one does, and I have, there are five elements which stand out," he argued referring to the economic governance of the union; Europe's social model; sustainable development and climate change policy; enlargement policy; and the reform of the EU's finances.

The Duff plan proposes adding fresh clauses on these five policy areas to the constitution by opening up the current policy part of the text, part III, while leaving parts I and II as they are.

Sarkozy and Amato

The MEP insists that simply removing the entire or most of part III – as proposed by French interior minister Nicolas Sarkozy and others - is not enough. "Subediting is not a sufficient response to the crisis," he said explaining that the changes to text should be "political."

Mr Duff rejected various proposals to merely slim down the constitution text without adding anything new - which he said are also under discussion in the "wise" group of European politicians led by Italian interior minister Giuliano Amato.

"I suspect that the Amato group is to come out with a...simple filleting of part III," he said. "This is mere pathology...What I am trying to do is to rejuvenate the creature."

The British MEP also opposes ideas to drop the name "constitution" and instead call a revised text a "treaty." Such a move would merely spark "contempt" from citizens while disguising the "truth about the scale and scope of integration," he said.

Liberal divisions

Meanwhile, Mr Duff's fellow European liberal party (ELDR) members gathering in Bucharest on Thursday and Friday (12-13 October) failed to reach agreement on a liberal "vision" on the future of the EU following disagreement on key paragraphs on the constitution.

ELDR president and Belgian MEP Annemie Neyts had in the run-up to the congress prepared a draft "vision for a modern and motivating EU" but the document was rejected by member parties and shelved until May next year.

The draft stood in sharp contrast with Mr Duff's plan B, as it said that "a revised text should not be called a 'Constitution'."

The ELDR draft also questioned the institutional Part I of the constitution by stating that "issues such as reducing the size of the Commission...and creating the position of EU President could be removed from the text."

Two-draft referendum

Eurosceptics in the European Parliament, meanwhile, are criticising the recent wave of plans to resuscitate the EU constitution, with Danish member Jens-Peter Bonde stating "instead of manipulating the public by drafting a compressed constitution, we should make a fresh start."

The veteran MEP proposes setting up a new "convention," similar to the body of European politicians that drafted the constitution but this time "directly elected by the people."

The body would have 270 members - with 10 representatives per member state - and work for one year, ideally coming up with two draft treaties - "draft A for a kind of EU state and draft B for a Europe of democracies."

Voters would subsequently be able to choose between the two options - representing radically different scales of European co-operation - in an EU-wide referendum.

"If people go for the federalist option I will accept that," he said adding that he would himself promote draft B - a decentralised EU focusing its work strictly on cross-border issues.

Exclusive

Selmayr did not keep formal records of lobby meetings

The German former secretary-general of the European Commission held some 21 meetings which were registered in the lobby register. But no documents appeared to exist summarising what was said.

Exclusive

EU parliament rejects ombudsman over expenses

The European Parliament questions whether the ombudsman had the right to criticise the institution's "margin of discretion" in deciding on publication of confidential papers about the controversial monthly €4,513 expenses lump sum for MEPs.

Survey: Half of EU staff 'don't know' ethics rules

Only half of EU staff claim good knowledge of their workplace's ethics rules, while 82 percent of staff at the European Parliament have never attended any ethics trainings, according to a report by the European Court of Auditors.

News in Brief

  1. Trump turned down: Greenland not for sale
  2. UK Libdems would back Clarke or Harman as new PM
  3. Six countries agree to take 'Open Arms' ship migrants
  4. Gibraltar judge: Iranian ship should be released
  5. Increasing fears of a global recession
  6. Far-right hate crimes on the rise in Germany
  7. EU steel tariffs have 'worked well' so far
  8. Italian court: Migrant rescue ship can enter Italian waters

Magazine

The changing of the guards in the EU in 2019

The four most powerful EU institutions - Commission, Parliament, Council and Central Bank will all have new leaders in the coming ten months. Here is an overview.

Magazine

Explained: What is the European Parliament?

While domestic political parties often use the European Parliament as a dumping ground for unwanted politicians - and a majority of citizens don't bother to vote - the parliament, over the years, has become a dominant force in the EU.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  5. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  7. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  8. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  9. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  10. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North

Latest News

  1. Selmayr did not keep formal records of lobby meetings
  2. EU asked to solve migrant rescue deadlock
  3. Internal EU paper: Second Brexit vote was no longer 'distant dream'
  4. EU has 'zero incentive' to break open 'trilogue' deals
  5. Denmark plans import ban on EU-approved pesticide
  6. US offers Johnson helping hand on Brexit
  7. Italy: New government without Salvini in the making
  8. Brexit row delays financial products transparency review

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  3. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  4. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  6. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  7. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  9. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID
  12. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us