9th Apr 2020

France backs European constitution referendum

The French minister of Foreign Affairs, Dominique de Villepin has backed the idea of a Europe-wide referendum on a future European Constitution.

Speaking on Saturday in the Institute of Political Studies in Paris at a European Student Convention meeting, Mr Villepin said it was important to have a foundational act that would see all the peoples of Europe reunite on the same day backing simultaneous referenda in the EU on the future Constitution as an excellent idea.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

De Villepin also defended the joint Franco-German proposal for a dual EU presidency. It would create a more stable system than the current with presidencies rotating among member states every six months, he said according to AFP. "Can so much authority be vested in one sole person?"... "a sole presidency would work against Europe," he continued.

Fini backing European referenda

Italy is also moving closer to acceptance of the idea. The Italian Government representative in the Convention, Vice-Prime Minister Gianfranco Fini stated in his contribution to an Italian Youth Convention in Rome last week, that he favoured the idea of ratifying the future European Convention by holding a referendum.

Mr Fini said he was ready to combine such a referendum with European elections in June 2004.

Majority in Dutch parliament called for referendum

With a tight majority (72 to 70 votes) the Dutch Parliament on 5 November 2002 declared that it was in favour of a non-binding referendum on the Convention outcome.

The text of the adopted motion read: "The parliament […] declares its wish that the results of the Convention will preferably be subject to a European referendum, or if this will not be possible, that the ratification by the Netherlands of the specific constitutional changes will be subject to a [national] referendum."

The ambiguous nature of the text has raised some questions. At the moment the Dutch constitution forbids binding referenda.

What is possible - is to have an ad-hoc law, a law for the purpose of a binding referendum on one particular issue this however may be blocked by a new parliament after elections are held tomorrow, Wednesday.

Denmark, Ireland and Portugal likely to vote

In Denmark and Ireland a new EU Constitutional treaty is likely to be prompt referenda due to the national constitutions of the two countries.

The Portuguese Prime Minister Durão Barroso may also accept a referendum on the next European Treaty, however such a referendum will only take place if the Treaty were to introduce major changes affecting Portugal's sovereignty, Mr Barroso said in October.

Growing pressure in Germany

In Germany the pressure for adopting a next EU treaty by referendum is growing. Leader of the CSU Berlin Landesgruppe Michael Glos has threatened the government coalition, saying that the Christian Democrats would vote against ratification of a future Constitution if it is not submitted for referendum.

However, a proposal to change the German Constitution in order for the country to be able to hold referenda on a federal level was turned down in June 2002, since the necessary two-thirds majority was not obtained. The Christian Democratic Party and some from the Liberal party opposed this proposal, which was put forward by the Green party and the Social Democratic Party.


First 100 days: Digital and Green Deal policies hit by crises

The first 100 days of Ursula von der Leyen's commission were supposed to be about the digital and environmental transitions. However, that agenda has been hit by first the coronavirus, and now the Greek border situation.


How corporate lobbyists steer EU law-making

Former EUobserver investigations editor Peter Teffer has written a new book about how lobbying in the EU works. The EU's focus on the internal market offers corporate lobbyists a perfect means to forward their interests.


G4S: the EU's preferred security contractor

The British multinational security company G4S lost its contract with the European Parliament in 2011 in a backlash from MEPs over alleged abuses in Israel. Today, they guard the parliament's main entrance and have become the EU's top security provider.


EU commissioner lobbied by energy firm he owns shares in

EU budget commissioner Johannes Hahn owns 2,200 shares in Austria's largest electricity provider. Those shares have tripled in value since he first declared them in 2014. In January, the firm met his head of cabinet to discuss climate policy.

EU transparency on lobbyist meetings still piecemeal

Small steps are being made to reveal who is lobbying who within the EU. But the approach is basically haphazard and piecemeal - meaning the public remains largely in the dark and unable to truly scrutinise the influencers.

'Top-down' future of Europe conference 'will fail' warning

The new president of the Committee of the Regions has warned the EU Commission that a top-down, centralised, Brussels-driven conference will fail to rebuild trust in Europe. Instead, he proposes a stronger say for local and regional authorities.

News in Brief

  1. EU injunction blocks Polish judicial tribunal
  2. EU's science chief resigns over 'disappointing' Covid-19 action
  3. EU urged to help abused women under lockdown
  4. Luxembourg to take 12 Greece-based refugees
  5. Thirteen EPP national groups call for suspending Fidesz
  6. WhatsApp imposes restriction on message forwarding
  7. EU military operations continue despite virus
  8. EU to ask firms to hedge against future pandemics

This is the (finally) approved European Commission

MEPs gave the green light to the entire new European Commission during the plenary session in Strasbourg - but with the abstention of the Greens and a rejection by the leftist group GUE/NGL.


Welcome to the EU engine room

Welcome to the EU engine room: the European Parliament (EP's) 22 committees, which churn out hundreds of new laws and non-binding reports each year and which keep an eye on other European institutions.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAMaking Europe’s Economy Circular – the time is now
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersScottish parliament seeks closer collaboration with the Nordic Council
  3. UNESDAFrom Linear to Circular – check out UNESDA's new blog
  4. Nordic Council of Ministers40 years of experience have proven its point: Sustainable financing actually works
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Baltic ministers paving the way for 5G in the region
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us