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Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Keep on Spinning

­­­Very interesting article in the Times today from arch-Blairite Alan Milburn. He says lots of good stuff that most people who are critical of EU integration would agree with. In particular he calls for powers to be returned to member states and attacks Angela Merkel for wanting to bring back the Constitution - although he does agree that some "piecemeal changes" will be necessary.

This sounds to us like another attempt by the Government and its supporters to distance themselves from the Constitution by attacking it as out of date and unnecessary, while trying to sneak in most of its provisions in a new 'amending treaty' without a referendum...

Any views?


Anonymous said...

How about the team giving us readers a bit of help?

1. Can the EU continue to function under the settlement reached by the Treaty of Nice?

2. If the answer is "no", is an amending treaty necessary? If not, why not?

3. What should be the elments of this amending treaty, and what aspects of the present Treaties should it repeal?

4. Is there anything -- *anything* -- in the present text of the Constitutional Treaty you could bring yourselves to accept in a new amending treaty?

Open Europe blog team said...

That's a pretty wide ranging question anon... here's a brief outline of an answer:

- Yes. The EU can continue to function under the Treaty of Nice. As the Charlemagne column in the Economist argued last week it is a myth to think the EU isn't functioning at the moment. It's passing more laws than ever. A study by Sciences Po has shown that the EU has been passing laws 25% faster since enlargement.

- It is also not true to say that the EU will not be able to enlarge further without another treaty. As a Commission official told me recently "It is legally possible to further enlarge the European Union on the basis of the current treaties, as last amended by the Treaty of Nice and the 2003 Act of accession. As a matter of fact, it is on the basis of the current treaties' provisions that the accession negociations with Croatia and Turkey were opened on 3 October 2005."

- While we agreed with parts of the Laeken Declaration which began the proccess, we see hardly anything positive in the draft Constitution. The only ideas that could be worthwhile - the citizens initiative and the "yellow card" subsidiarity mechanism are toothless and can easily be ignored by the Commission - as they already have been. E.g the oneseat.eu initiative.

- obviously we would like the EU's institutions to change - but not along the lines currently proposed by EU politicians. We are in favour of returning powers to member states and - more importantly - establishing the principle that this is possible. We would also like to see moves away from a one-size-fits-all approach to a more flexible structure which allows countries to opt-in and out as they see fit from EU policies. That would certainly be a step in the right direction...

Anonymous said...

I agree that a new treaty is not a legal requirement to enlarge the EU -- but it is clear that a large majority of Member States would regard it as a political requirement.

Plus there is already a trend towards opting out of EU policies -- like the single currency and immigration and civil law -- and the Merkel letter suggests more of the same.

Anonymous said...

Returning powers back to member states would defeat the purpose of the European Union, their goal is to represent Europe as whole, as a united force. Some member countries seem afraid to give up their power because it will impact their sovereignty. The citizens of these member states need to stand up to their governments if they want the EU to succeed; they need to show their support for a united Europe. By showing their governments that they can overcome their divisions, they can create a new political culture, and therefore legitimize the union. A good example of this could be the United Kingdom although having divisions, from the Welsh to British to Scottish, most still believe the government is legitimate and that helps to create a sense of identity/political culture. These shared beliefs are a part of the political culture that brings the country together and in the same way can bring the EU member states together. The member states will have their national identity but adapt to a more secondary identity, the European Union, and the idea of signing the constitution would not be one that needed so much debate.