TEAM Briefing Paper, No 1, 2004. Download in pdf-version here:
Update on EU Constitution negotiations - 27 April 2004
The EU Summit in Brussels on March 25-26 agreed to restart the negotiations on the EU Constitution after the collaps of the talks in December last year. The Heads of Governments have agreed to reach a compromise on the Constitution at the next Summit in Brussels on June 17-18. According to media reports, around 20 to 30 topics remain to be solved before the Summit in June. Here is an attempt to make a general outline of the main topics, its consequences, and the current positions in the negotiation process.
The EU Summit in Brussels on March 25-26 agreed to restart the negotiations on the EU Constitution after the collapse of the talks in December last year. The Heads of Governments have agreed to reach a compromise on the Constitution at the next Summit in Brussels on June 17-18. According to media reports, around 20 to 30 topics remain to be solved before the Summit in June. In this TEAM Briefing Paper a general outline is made of the main topics, its consequences, and the current positions in the negotiation process.
TEAM Briefing Paper, No 1, 2004. Download in pdf-version here:
“Tony Blair has today made a statement in Parliament to confirm that a referendum will be held on the proposed EU Constitution. In a widely leaked reversal of policy, Tony Blair pledged that once Parliament has debated and decided on the EU Constitution, ‘the people should have the final say’. Mr Blair stopped short of explaining why he has had such a sudden and complete change of view or of setting out a specific timetable. However, his indication that the final document, expected to be agreed in June, will first be considered by Parliament indicates that the referendum is unlikely before an expected Spring 2005 general election”, reports the Democracy Movement.
“If a referendum is held on the EU Constitution in the UK, which media reports suggests, the demand to hold referendums will increase in other European countries. Many governments will have a hard time explaining why their citizens should not have a say on the future of the EU,” says John Boyd, Coordinator of The European Alliance of EU-critical Movements (TEAM). TEAM will support the No-sides in the referendums as a part of the campaign “No to the EU State Constitution - Yes to Democracy!”.
On March 25 the German-based Mehr Demokratie and the European Referendum Campaign launched, together with the UK-based Democracy Movement, a “Referendum Roadshow” across Britain. The campaign was launched with the highly visible, inflatable display calling for a referendum opposite the Houses of Parliament in London. Thousands of leaflets demanding a referendum are set to be distributed during the roadshow and a series of public meetings and debates has been organised with a diverse range speakers supporting a referendum.
Today the Eurosceptic party in Latvia has been officially registered as standing in the European parliamentary elections in June. “We are looking forward to a fruitful cooperation with the Eurosceptic Party which has just gained the right to stand in the European parliamentary elections,” says Majbrit Berlau from The People’s Movement Against the EU.
“TEAM welcomes the Brussels Summit’s agreement to restart the negotiations on the EU Constitution. Then, at last, we will get a real discussion on the Constitution’s content and its consequences. This will be the hot topic in the forthcoming elections to the European Parliament,” says John Boyd, Coordinator of The European Alliance of EU-critical Movements (TEAM).
“After the horrifying bomb attacks in Madrid new measures to target terrorism are proposed. The draft Constitution is also presented as a shield against terrorist attacks. These are smoke screens in the debate, with only one purpose: To strengthen the EU’s powers without a proper discussion on its consequences”, says John Boyd, Coordinator of The European Alliance of EU-critical Movements (TEAM).
On 28-29 February 2004 The European Alliance of EU-critical Movements (TEAM) will hold its 8th Annual General Meeting in Copenhagen. “It is important to raise awareness about the Constitution. We need a proper debate about its content and possible consequences. The peoples of Europe should of course have a say on it in national referendums. Here, Denmark can pose as an example for the rest of Europe”, says John Boyd, Acting TEAM Coordinator.
The Big Three - Britain, France and Germany - have made clear their intent to dominate the European Union at their Berlin Summit. “These three EU Member States have formed a de facto directoire to consolidate the basis for a two tier EU”, says John Boyd, Acting Coordinator of The European Alliance of EU-critical Movements (TEAM).
“The final outcome of the IGC may well be a Constitution which is even more centralizing than the British government believed was likely to be the case. In these circumstances, it is likely that concessions will have been made on at least some of the British government’s ‘red line’ issues. The line the government has always taken is that no major changes to our relationship with the EU are entailed by the Constitution because the ‘red line’ issues will ensure the protection of our sovereignty. If any of these go or are even partly eroded, what is left of the government’s already flimsy case that the British people should not be allowed to decide on how they want to be governed in future?”, asks the UK-based Labour Euro-Safeguards Campaign in their new bulletin.
Read more in the LESC Bulletin
“German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer has sought to calm EU-critics by saying that he would not be pushing for an EU ‘superstate’. His reassurance is not convincing. The EU Constitution gives the EU the tools and symbols of an ‘EU state’ and Fischer is one of the most enthusiastic advocates of this idea”, says John Boyd, Acting Coordinator of The European Alliance of EU-critical Movements (TEAM) in a comment.
“Europe is trapped in a growing constitutional gridlock. The real Europe wrestles with stagnation, recession, rising unemployment, soaring deficits and decline on the world stage. Its institutions, such as the European Central Bank and the European Commission are locked in a war of words over responsibility for this crisis. Vitally needed reforms struggle to make headway through layers of enterprise-sapping bureaucracy”, writes Bill Jamieson in a new EU Constitution Briefing Paper for the London-based think tank The Bruges Group.
Read more on The Bruges Group’s webpage
“The population-based system for making EU laws that is proposed in the draft EU Constitution Taoiseach Ahern is striving to bring into being - a 60 percent population headcount - would turn the existing river of EU legislation into a flood. It would greatly increase the volume of legislation coming from Brussels, which is why the EU Commission and Parliament desire it, for their power derives from their role in EU law-making”, writes Anthony Coughlan, National Platform, Ireland.
“The old story about the golem has survived in many different forms during the past centuries. Its latest incarnation is the European Commission, which originally was established to co-ordinate the steel and coal industry of six countries. But since then, in the past decades, it has grown above them. The latest sign of this was when the Commission took the Council of Finance Ministers (ECOFIN) to the European Court. Who manages the Union? The Commission, a body that cannot be democratically controlled and that, except for the proven corruption case, is not responsible for anything?” asks Karoly Lorant from Hungary.
“Now we are being told that Ireland has a role to play in EU common security strategy. Notice the way the weasel words “security strategy” have conveniently replaced “common defence” to get around the new article 29.4.9 of the Constitution. The arguments for Ireland abandoning its neutrality in favour of joining a common EU defence (sorry, security strategy) are as bogus as Article 29.4.9 of the Constitution. UN collective security and support for the institutions of international law are now being replaced by the weasel word “multilateralism” in EU-speak and Irish Foreign Affairs lingo”, writes Edward Horgan, International Secretary for the Peace and Neutrality Alliance (PANA) in Ireland.
Read more on PANA’s webpage
The campaign to defend civil liberties against the emerging EU State
“With the draft Constitution as the culmination of the EU project, we are moving back to the Ancien Regime: the pre-democratic dark ages wherein the political elite is free of any meaningful accountability. A key part of the political struggle against the Constitution involves civil liberties, for this is where the sinister character of the EU project is at its most self-evident”, writes Marc Glendening, Campaign Director of the Democracy Movement, UK.
TEAM rejects the EU Constitution on the following grounds:
“Victorious shouts over the collapse of the EU summit in Brussels should be tinged with a large dose of caution. The EU state Constitution and EU Charter of Fundamental Rights remain on the EU table. At the same time the Treaty of Nice is in operation with the big member states firmly in control via the weighted qualified majority voting system which leans heavily towards a two tier EU”, writes John Boyd, Acting Coordinator of TEAM.
“Poland and Spain were prepared for compromises at the summit. France, however, was not. French President Jacques Chirac was inflexible and hoping for a conflict, perhaps because the enlargement of the EU slowly but surely will transfer control of the EU from Paris to Berlin”, writes Jens-Peter Bonde, MEP for the Danish June Movement.
Read more on EUobserver.com
“Just before the Summit in Brussels, on 11-12 December, the conference “Visions for a democratic Europe” gathers people - both EU-critics and EU-enthusiasts - from all over Europe to discuss the Constitution and demand that the people should have a say about it. Now it is time to give the bombastic slogan of “the citizens’ Europe” some content. Let’s ask the people what kind of Europe they want”, writes Henrik Dahlsson, Secretary General of TEAM, in a comment on EUobserver.com.
“The breakdown of the Brussels Summit puts the idea of a Union, run by the big states, into question. It shows that the French-German aspiration for hegemony in Europe is not accepted”, says John Boyd, Acting Coordinator of The European Alliance of EU-critical Movements (TEAM) in a comment.
• “Mr Hain has told us that the draft Constitution is a tidying up exercise. This is not a tidying-up exercise. To transfer power over the criminal law is, on the contrary, one of the most fundamental things that could happen to this country’s constitution”, writes Oliver Letwin MP in a new EU Constitution Briefing Paper for the London-based think tank The Bruges Group.
Read more on The Bruges Group’s webpage
“The Summit in Napoli has not changed the EU’s course of direction towards a state-like structure, with increased power for the big countries”, says Ditte Staun, Spokesperson for the Peoples’ Movement against the EU, Denmark.
Read more in Danish on The Peoples’ Movement against the EU’s webpage
Press release Give the people final say on EU Constitution! 19-6-2004
Press release EP election results show lack of support for EU Constitution 14-6-2004