Monday

24th Apr 2017

Spain pushes for extended EU constitution

In a speech to open the 'Friends of EU constitution' meeting in Madrid, Spain's foreign minister Miguel Angel Moratinos argued that any revised treaty should be extended to include more European objectives rather than pared down to just institutional reforms.

Delegates from the 18 countries that have ratified the EU constitution plus its strong supporters - Ireland and Portugal - have gathered in a cultural centre - usually used for hosting events related to Latin America - to outline their positions on the future of the European treaty.

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.

In line with the motto of the meeting and the key idea to be highlighted in the forthcoming statement - "Por una Europa mejor", for a better Europe, Mr Moratinos reiterated that the current treaty is an "excellent document".

"We have met here to have our voice heard. Because it cannot be simply ignored that 18 countries ratified this constitution and some of them even after the negative outcome of referendums in France and the Netherlands."

Luxembourg's Europe minister Nicolas Schmit - representing the country that adopted the constitution by popular vote following the French and Dutch polls - said "I am convinced that we all should be in position to back the project that takes us forward."

For his part, Mr Moratinos said that while a debate about possible changes to the form and content of the constitution often boils down to statements suggesting that only the core of the text should be retained, "not everybody views this core and what constitutes it in the same way."

"We all agree that the union requires institutional reforms in order to adapt to enlargement. These reforms are necessary, but far from sufficient to ensure the future of the union."

He went on to suggest that Spain prefers a "bold proposal, though not a rushed one" rather than a proposal aimed at the lowest common denominator, with several delegates - such as Belgium's secretary of European affairs - set to suggest that the current constitution already represents a "minimum minimorum".

Mr Moratinos proposed that a new extended text could include provisions on subjects such as enlargement criteria, immigration, energy, climate change, defence policy and a European social space.

"It is clear we will probably need to negotiate its [the constitution's] modification. But Spain would seek to complete it rather than piece it up."

However, during a debate following his speech, most of the delegates maintained that any future modifications should be just minimal.

Don't touch this text

"We are all firmly behind this text, so don't touch it - that was the main message from most delegations," one observer told EUobserver.

"Also, almost everybody called for the two countries that have seen a negative referendum outcome to say clearly what their position is."

He added that most countries also highlighted their support for the German presidency and its plan to salvage the constitution by 2009, while stressing that today's meeting was not supposed to divide Europe into two camps.

Asked by journalists if he was bothered that the meeting was being attended only by lower-level officials, Spain's foreign minister said this was his country's plan from the start.

Eurozone bank needs more scrutiny, says NGO

Transparency International says eurozone's central bank is not subject to "appropriate democratic scrutiny" and should have no say on EU bailout projects.

Analysis

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.

Column / Brexit Briefing

Controlling the right of repeal

There was a distinct air of finality about Sir Tim Barrow's personal delivery of the Article 50 letter in Brussels – it certainly marks the end of an era.

Be fair in Brexit talks, EU tells UK

European Council chief Tusk sent draft guidelines to member states. He said the EU wants "fairness" and then warned against using security cooperation as bargaining chip.

News in Brief

  1. Italy misses deadline on air quality warning
  2. Land mine kills OSCE observer in Ukraine
  3. Italy prosecutor claims NGOs are working with migrant smugglers
  4. Danish defence hacked by Russian cyberspies
  5. EU trade commissioner in US to pick up TTIP talks
  6. Juncker to meet Soros on Hungary next week
  7. Timmermans praises Romania's anti-corruption measures
  8. Trump says 'strong Europe' is good for the US

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersDeveloping Independent Russian-Language Media in the Baltic Countries
  2. Swedish EnterprisesReform of the European Electricity Market: Lessons from the Nordics, Brussels 2 May
  3. Malta EU 2017Green Light Given for New EU Regulation to Bolster External Border Checks
  4. Counter BalanceCall for EU Commission to Withdraw Support of Trans-Adriatic Pipeline
  5. ACCAEconomic Confidence at Highest Since 2015
  6. European Federation of Allergy and Airways60%-90% of Your Life Is Spent Indoors. How Does Poor Indoor Air Quality Affect You?
  7. European Gaming and Betting AssociationCJEU Confirms Obligation for a Transparent Licensing Process
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region and the US: A Time of Warlike Rhetoric and Militarisation?
  9. European Free AllianceEFA MEPs Vote in Favor of European Parliament's Brexit Mandate
  10. Mission of China to the EUXinhua Insight: China to Open up Like Never Before
  11. World VisionViolence Becomes New Normal for Syrian Children
  12. International Partnership for Human RightsTime to Turn the Tide and End Repression of Central Asia's Civil Society

Latest News

  1. Les fake news inondent les réseaux sociaux français
  2. Les amis de Le Pen à la Trump Tower
  3. France's election run-off will be far-right versus EU
  4. Alternative for Germany party refuses to shun extreme right
  5. Brexit summit, Turkey and Hungary dominate EU This WEEK
  6. Russia threat triggers European military spending hike
  7. Voters 'change face' of French politics
  8. France holds nail-biting 'anti-system' vote