European Union Constitution: Simplify and Deliver

The European Union’s intergovernmental conference is set to conclude this month, but the fruit of its labours – a new constitution – may never come into effect. Every one of the Union’s twenty five member states will have to ratify it, and half a dozen are seriously considering national referenda. Two of those – Denmark and Ireland – rejected previous treaties. Even in founding members the Netherlands and France, voters look likely to say no if they are asked.

The World Today Updated 21 October 2020 Published 1 December 2003 3 minute READ

Dr Heather Grabbe

Director, Open Society European Policy Institute

Europe really needs a decent constitution. Enlargement to twenty five members next year will put unprecedented pressure on a system that is already wheezing and shaking. The constitution contains many changes to procedures that are boring to the uninitiated but essential to streamlining the European Union (EU). It will also rationalise the sprawling legal framework.

The current draft contains many measures that eurosceptics have been demanding for years. It allows countries to withdraw voluntarily from the Union. It sets limits on the powers of the institutions. It provides a list of areas that are wholly matters for nation-states to decide within their own borders. And it states clearly that the Union draws its powers from member states, not the other way around. But none of these welcome improvements has appeared in hostile press coverage.

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