Political agreement on "new EU"
It has found a new formula for distribution of power between the member state governments in the Council and removed one big obstacle to the adoption of a new EU Constitution. But in contrast to what some recent news reports (and Commission President Romano Prodi himself "Today we have approved a new Constitution" seem to suggest, there's still some significant way ahead. What is called "Constitution" is in reality a new treaty between all member states (extending and replacing the current EU treaties), so all member states which want to form this "new EU" would have to first sign and then ratify it. Jens-Peter Bonde, Danish MEP (re-elected for 2004-2009) has immense criticsm for this text.
- The treaty has been signed by the member states in Rome.
- The next step is ratification: The respective national legislative bodies (usually the Parliament) have to approve the final text. The current schedule for ratification of the Constitution treaty is two years.
- A significant obstacle might be that in some countries, legislative bodies can decide (or even might be required) to hold a referendum on the Constitution text. Already nine (e.g. UK and Denmark) countries have declared that they will hold such a plebiscite.
There's also a campaign going on to get such referendums in all 25 EU member states.
Even if the current (tight) schedule can be met, the actual Constitution will not enter into force before 2009.
European Convention: Draft for Constitution Treaty
Additional information at euabc.com
Report at euobserver.com
In discussions within FFII about the constitution, the following points of criticism have been raised:
The constitution perpetuates the current undemocratic system of the EU, wherein legislative power is wielded mainly by the Executive. It cements the EU as a "Union of Councils", i.e. a consiliar (soviet) union, with Council/Commission acting as "politbureau" where much of the legislative process takes place in the dark without supervision by any parliament (--> further analysis).
General lack of transparency: To follow the decision-making under the new "double majority" system, one will have to bring a pocket calculator. According to the Constitution draft, a majority will only be achieved if 55% of the member states who, at the same time, represent at least 65% of the EU population agree. Additionally, at least 15 member states have to support a decision. Extensive explanation about this "double majority" by the Commission
The constitution says "Intellectual property shall be protected". This is bad legislation, because the concept of "intellectual property" is unclear and wide open to abusive definitions. It is primarily the interests, especially freedom interests, of citizens that deserve "protection", inter alia against abusive "intellectual property" claims (--> further analysis).
Some parts of the constitution explicitly authorise the Council and Commission's "internal market" policy organs (i.e. the patent lobby's strongholds) to control "IP" legislation and to lock Europe into worldwide "IP" treaties (--> further analysis).
- Without a EU-wide referendum, any "constitution" will have little legitimacy. It has already become clear that in the UK referendum the government will frame the decision as one of UK opting for or against isolating itself from Europe rather than as one of Europe desiring or not to give itself this constitution.