Saturday

27th Aug 2016

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.

News in Brief

  1. Hungary plans to reinforce border fence against migrants
  2. France's highest court suspends burkini ban
  3. Greeks paid €1bn more in taxes in June
  4. Greek minister denounces EU letter on former statistics chief
  5. Turks seeking asylum in Greece may cause diplomatic row
  6. Merkel becomes digital resident of Estonia
  7. Report: VW will compensate US dealers with €1bln
  8. EU mulls making Google pay news media for content

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. GoogleBrussels - home of beer, fries, chocolate and Google’s Public Policy Team - follow @GoogleBrussels
  2. HuaweiSeeds for the Future Programme to Bring Students from 50 countries to China for Much-Needed ICT Training
  3. EFASpain is not a democratic state. EFA expresses its solidarity to Arnaldo Otegi and EH Bildu
  4. UNICEFBoko Haram Violence in Lake Chad Region Leaves Children Displaced and Trapped
  5. HuaweiMaking Cities Smarter and Safer
  6. GoogleHow Google Makes Connections More Secure For Users
  7. EGBAThe EU Court of Justice Confirms the Application of Proportionality in Assessing Gambling Laws
  8. World VisionThe EU and Member States Must Not Use Overseas Aid for Promoting EU Interests
  9. Dialogue PlatformInterview: "There is a witch hunt against the Gulen Movement in Turkey"
  10. ACCAACCA Calls for ‘Future Looking’ Integrated Reporting Culture With IIRC and IAAER
  11. EURidNominate Your Favourite .eu or .ею Website for the .EU Web Awards 2016 Today!
  12. Dialogue PlatformAn Interview on Gulen Movement & Recent Coup Attempt in Turkey