Friday

24th Feb 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.

French police raid Le Pen's party office

Officers raid the National Front headquarters near Paris over allegations that leader Marine Le Pen used fake EU parliament contracts to pay her personal staff.

Le Pen used 'fake' EU parliament jobs

A leaked EU anti-fraud office report says French far-right leader, Marine Le Pen, had her bodyguard and personal assistant paid by the EU parliament for jobs they did not do.

MEPs look for ways to defund far-right party

The Alliance for Peace and Freedom (APF) has sued the European Parliament for changing its party funding rules last year. Meanwhile, MEPs probe their duty to fund a party that brings together people with neo-Nazi and fascist past.

EU commission drops anti-corruption report

Transparency campaigners are livid after the EU commission scuppered plans to publish an EU anti-corruption report amid unfolding corruption scandals in Romania and France.

News in Brief

  1. Labour ousts Ukip in Brexit homeland
  2. Dutch lower house approves EU-Ukraine treaty
  3. WTO says Russian pork ban was illegal
  4. Belgian nuclear plant made 'significant progress' on safety
  5. Report: Commission gauging EU support for Poland sanctions
  6. Irish PM expected to quit amid police scandal
  7. After Brexit vote, 100,000 UK firms registered in Ireland
  8. Bayrou to support Macron in French presidential election

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. QS World MBA TourMeet with Leading International Business Schools in Paris on March 4th
  2. Malta EU 2017Economic Governance: Agreement Reached on Structural Reform Support Programme for Member States
  3. Socialists & DemocratsWomen Have to Work Ten Years Longer to Match Lifetime Earnings of Men
  4. Counter BalanceTrans-Adriatic Pipeline Is a Major Risk for Banks, Warns New Analysis
  5. Martens CentreEU and US Migration Policies Compared: Join the Debate on February 28th
  6. Swedish EnterprisesTechnology and Data Flows - Shaping the Society of Tomorrow
  7. UNICEFNearly 1.4 Million Children at Risk of Death as Famine Looms Across Africa and Yemen
  8. Malta EU 2017End of Roaming Fees: Council Reaches Agreement on Wholesale Caps
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Innovation House Opens in New York to Help Startups Access US Market
  10. Centre Maurits CoppietersMinorities and Migrations
  11. Salzburg Global SeminarThe Child in the City: Health, Parks and Play
  12. UNICEFNumber of Ukrainian Children Needing Aid Nearly Doubles to 1 Million Over the Past Year

Latest News

  1. Don't blame Trump for Europe's insecurity
  2. EU rules out post-Brexit 'hard border' with Northern Ireland
  3. Fewer EU pupils being taught two foreign languages
  4. Women and child refugees face abuse in French camp
  5. Russian military creates 'information force'
  6. Spain MPs to probe €60bn bank bailouts
  7. Crowded race to win EU medicines agency
  8. Fighting environmental injustice in Europe