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The purpose of this page is to be a (quick) guide to the arguments for and against the (not) EU Constitution and the Lisbon Treaty which may or may not be the resurrected Constitution depending on whose side you're on...

Contents:
A Unit 3 Answer Pro-Constitution
Wiki's For and Against the EU Constitution
The Times article calling for a UK Referendum on the EU Constitution

If the recent entry of 12 new EU members had been delayed much longer, it might never have happened and that would have been an historic error argues David Rennie.

In the nick of time

Economist 2008 05 29

In Italy's recent general election, voters in the north of the country were greeted by posters showing a Native American chief in feathered headdress. The caption read: “They suffered immigration, now they live on reservations.” The posters were the work of the Northern League, a regionalist grouping that blames immigrants and globalisation for many of Italy’s ills. The party struck a chord: it almost doubled its share of the vote. Silvio Berlusconi, the overall winner, chimed in, declaring that Italy should close its borders and open camps so police could track down jobless foreigners. Italians knew whom he was talking about: an estimated half a million Romanians living in Italy, many of them gypsies (Roma), who are blamed for a spate of violent crimes. Romania, along with Bulgaria, joined the European Union at the beginning of last year, giving its citizens the right to travel freely all over their new club. Many duly went west. Mr Berlusconi’s oddly precise promise to round up jobless foreigners was no accident. One of the few legal grounds for expelling foreigners from another EU nation is to show they have no means of support. To show that they have a criminal record is not enough: EU citizens may be deported only if they gravely threaten public order.

The arrival of Bulgaria and Romania completed what Eurocrats call the “fifth enlargement” of the union, begun in May 2004 with the admission of ten new members, from Estonia in the north to Cyprus in the south. In under three years the EU grew from 380m people in 15 countries to half a billion in 27.

This report will argue that enlargement has been a force for good. Freedom of movement is a founding principle of the European Union and one of its greatest strengths. Successive waves of enlargement have injected new life into societies and labour markets across old Europe that were in danger of sinking into elegant, arthritic decline. Freedom to trade has also brought huge benefits. The most recent enlargement added a dozen mostly fast-growing, unusually open economies to the single market, providing a big boost to anaemic EU growth rates. Dan Hamilton, an American academic, calls Europe’s eastern fringes “the China next door”.

The accession process that began more than a decade ago provided an historic incentive for reforms. Yet the expansion of the club has been jarring for citizens of older member countries (for example, Italy) who have discovered that their national governments are no longer in full control of their borders. Many people in older EU member countries believe that enlargement has triggered a wholesale exodus of jobs from west to lower-paid east. According to a 2006 Eurobarometer poll, three-quarters of EU citizens think that enlargement speeds the transfer of jobs to countries with cheaper labour. Yet according to the European Restructuring Monitor, an official survey, only 8% of EU jobs lost to restructuring between 2003 and 2006 involved offshoring.

Globalisation started long before enlargement, but enlargement has crystallised public fears about it, often setting one corner of Europe against another. Nokia bosses were heavily criticised earlier this year when they announced the closure of a mobile-telephone factory in the German city of Bochum and the transfer of the work to Cluj in Romania. A German minister demanded assurances that EU funds would not be used to subsidise the move. In truth, EU firms have been investing heavily in central and eastern Europe since soon after the Berlin Wall came down, and Italy was home to about 350,000 Romanian migrants before Romania joined the union. Yet public fears about Polish plumbers and other bogeymen are real enough. Even though German exporters have flourished by selling to the new member states, 63% of Germans, according to Eurobarometer, think that enlargement is making Europe as a whole less prosperous.

Some of the newcomers have not helped their cause since joining. Nasty populists have done well in elections in several countries, and Romania, Bulgaria, Slovakia and the Czech Republic have shown prejudice against the Roma too. But then prejudice, bad government, corruption and organised crime are not the exclusive preserve of the new members. Some existing members have been setting a bad example for them. Nor was the fifth enlargement a simple matter of countries governed by former dissidents accepting the democratic embrace of the West. Plenty of ex-communists smoothly relabelled themselves and hung on to power across the block. Brussels is full of talk about “backsliding” to describe the way that politicians in the new member countries forgot, or actively undermined, reforms that the EU demanded during accession negotiations. Corruption and organised crime blight many of the newcomers. Parliaments and ministerial suites shelter too many bad men.

All this has led some to suggest that enlargement happened too soon, and that many of these problems could have been avoided by waiting until the accession countries were better prepared. This report will argue the opposite: that enlargement came in the nick of time. Inside the candidate countries the first victims of further delay would have been reformers who for years had been pushing painful changes as vital for achieving EU membership. Had the public started to doubt that entry was fairly imminent, the drive for reforms would have been undermined.

For the existing member countries, three big reasons would have made enlargement far more difficult if it had come any later than it did. These can be summarised as migration, money and Moscow.

First, migration. Immigration from the east to the EU accelerated with the 2004 enlargement, though it had been going on for years before that. As the Italian example shows, if any one of the 12 new members, especially Romania and Bulgaria, were still queuing to enter the EU, there would now be a heated debate about immigration, and the EU keystones of free movement of people, capital, goods and services might soon be under attack.

Second, money. During the long years of entry negotiations, many European economies were doing pretty well. Now, with the world looking bleaker, the older members might be feeling a lot less generous. Back in 2002, 66% of the French supported the coming EU enlargement. By early 2006, France’s then prime minister, Dominique de Villepin, was blaming enlargement for the French rejection of the EU constitution in a referendum the previous summer. “France did not say no to Europe,” Mr de Villepin told an EU meeting in Salzburg; rather, Europe did not adequately prepare the ground for the enlargement of 2004.

The European Commission ordered an opinion poll in France immediately after the “no” vote in 2005 which identified three main reasons why French voters rejected the constitution: it would shift jobs out of France; the document was overly liberal and pro-market; and the economy was ailing. (A similar poll carried out after Dutch voters said no in their own referendum, days later, found that only 7% of respondents were worried mainly about the loss of jobs overseas. The most common explanations were “a lack of information” and concerns about national sovereignty.)

Money worries would play a bigger part if the latest round of EU enlargement were still being debated now. Poorer countries have been admitted before. When Greece joined in 1981, its GDP per person stood at 58% of the then European Community average (at purchasing-power parity). When Spain and Portugal came in five years later, their income was around 70% and 56% of the EU average respectively. But the newcomers are in a different class of poverty. For Poland, the figure at entry in 2004 was about half the EU average. When Bulgaria and Romania joined last year, theirs were 38% and 40% respectively.

The newcomers are different in other ways too. Romania, which added 4.5m farm holdings when it joined, now accounts for a third of all the farms in the union. (It also brought several thousand wild bears, more than doubling the EU’s bear population overnight.) The newcomers have changed established views of EU history, which had long concentrated on the West and Franco-German reconciliation. As one official puts it, they are full of people for whom 1945 was not a “magic year” but the start of a new occupation.

That occupation was ordered from Moscow, and Russia’s increasing assertiveness is the final reason to believe that enlargement happened just in time. EU enlargement brought dramatic changes in Russia’s backyard and reduced the country’s sphere of influence. Yet Russia did not block the eastern expansion of the EU. In reality, Russia’s then president, Vladimir Putin, raised only two big concerns ahead of the event, recalls Günter Verheugen, a former EU enlargement chief. One was to protect the status of the Russian language and the rights of non-citizens in Estonia and Latvia. The second, and trickier, one involved Kaliningrad, a chunk of Russian territory sandwiched between Poland and Lithuania. To the horror of eastern European governments, Mr Putin proposed linking Kaliningrad with the rest of Russia by a railway corridor drawn across Lithuanian territory. At a summit in 2003, Italy (then, as now, led by Mr Berlusconi) backed Russia’s plan, with encouragement from France. Britain, Sweden and Germany opposed it. Residents of Kaliningrad now travel through Lithuania on a simplified visa. It is not hard to imagine Russia playing even tougher today than it did five years ago.

Earlier this year Mr de Villepin, now safely out of office, told a Belgian newspaper that enlargement was proof of Europe’s “genius” for getting along with others. Had it, he mused, been in Europe’s interest to open its doors to the nations of the east? “No. But Europe had no other choice but to hold out its hand.”

This report would not dispute that Europe had no choice, but it will also contend that enlargement was very much in the union’s interests. It will describe an enlarged Europe that is changing fast, in terms of globalisation, infrastructure or efforts to resolve the remaining legacies of communism. It will ask why EU membership has so far failed to end the frozen conflict in Cyprus, and whether that is about to change. On all these fronts, it will argue, it is a good thing that half a billion Europeans are now in this together.

http://www.martinfrost.ws/htmlfiles/june2008/eu_enlargment.html




Irish referendum could scupper EU treaty

By Gordon Rayner 31/05/2008

In 1973, when Ireland joined what is now the European Union, it was the poorest country on the continent. Today, thanks in no small part to £32 billion in EU grants, it is the second richest per capita (after Luxembourg). So the result of a referendum on June 12 on whether to consolidate EU powers by ratifying the Treaty of Lisbon must surely be a foregone conclusion.

Think again. Despite every major political party backing the Yes campaign, support for a No vote is growing daily. The most recent poll put the Yes voters at 41 per cent and the No voters at 33 per cent. That sounds like a healthy lead until you discover the Yes campaign was polling well over 50 per cent on the eve of another Irish EU referendum – on the Nice Treaty in 2001 – before the electorate delivered a resounding No.

In Brussels, European parliamentarians are twitchy about the future of the EU's 495 million citizens resting in the hands of the one million Irish voters expected to turn out on polling day. Having spent two years rebuilding the Treaty of Lisbon from the scrap parts of the defeated European Constitution, the Eurocrats can only watch as a learner driver takes the wheel of their juggernaut and drives it towards the edge of a cliff. This scenario has arisen because, while all 26 of the other member states have decided to wave through the treaty via their parliaments (the UK included), Ireland alone has a legal obligation under its constitution to put the matter to a public vote. Because the treaty must be passed unanimously by all 27 member states, an Irish No vote would kill it.

Earlier this week, the European Commission president, José Manuel Barroso, suggested a No vote would be catastrophic for the EU. "We will all pay a price for it, Ireland included," he said, adding that there was "no plan B" if Ireland exercised its veto. Mr Barroso and his cohorts argue that the treaty represents the next glorious stage in the EU's future, creating a new post of full-time European Council president, streamlining the European Commission and redistributing voting powers.

If you don't find these allegedly crucial changes inspiring, you're not alone. And therein lies the fundamental problem for Ireland's Yes campaigners. Try as they might, they have been unable to come up with anything approaching a coherent, inspirational argument for a Yes. Most tellingly of all, the new Irish premier, Brian Cowen, has admitted he hasn't read all of the 287-page treaty, and nor has Ireland's EU Commissioner, Charlie McCreevy, who said no sane person could read it from cover to cover. Asked to sum up why the Irish should support Lisbon, Micheál Martin, director of the referendum campaign for one of the big three parties, Fianna Fáil, said: "First of all, the purpose of the treaty is to ensure that the EU is reformed so that it is more efficient and effective in meeting modern challenges…"

Cue widespread yawns from voters. And the leaders of the other main parties have been equally soporific, leaving an open goal for any No campaigner with the charisma and ability to play on popular fears. Such a man is Declan Ganley, a multi-millionaire businessman who formed the campaign group Libertas to fight first the European Constitution and now the Lisbon Treaty. Along with such powerful voices as the Irish Farmers Association and leaders of the Roman Catholic Church, he has given voters a dizzying array of reasons to vote No. The farmers, who have received two thirds of Ireland's EU subsidies, argue that their handouts will be drastically cut, devastating rural areas. Pro-life groups say Ireland will be forced to relax its abortion laws, pacifists say Ireland's cherished neutrality will be in danger because of provisions for a European army, and patriots say Ireland will be giving up the independence it fought so hard for less than 100 years ago. On top of all that, there are fears that a centralised taxation system will mean the end of Ireland's favourable 12.5 per cent corporation tax (compared with the UK's 28 per cent), which has helped attract so many businesses.

John McGuirk, a leading member of Libertas, told me: "We will lose huge influence if Lisbon is ratified and we will get nothing in return. "It will open the doors for Europe to interfere in our taxation system, and it will place huge restrictions on what rights we have to set our own laws." While the treaty may yet get a Yes vote – the online bookmaker Paddy Power is offering odds of 1-4 for, 5-2 against – it all depends on whether the voters turn out on the day.

There is a real danger that apathy will prevent pro-Lisbon support being transformed into votes. Éanna Nolan, a 38-year-old civil engineer, told me: "I am tending towards voting Yes, if only because the Yes campaign has the backing of all the major parties, whereas the No campaigners are people like Sinn Fein and [the singer] Dana." Miriam Laird, a 28-year-old accountant, said: "I've always been pro-Europe, so I'm in favour of the treaty." Yet both of these voters were not sure whether they would even bother to turn out on polling day.

In contrast, the No campaign supporters I spoke to were clear about their reasons for turning down the Lisbon Treaty – and about their intention to cast a vote on June 12. Pádraig De Faoite, 22, a student teacher, said: "We're giving away our democracy and we have no idea what's going on in Brussels. On top of that, migrant workers will be able to come in from all over Europe and undercut Irish workers, so it will cost jobs." Ide Nic Mhathuna, 24, an office administrator, cited the plight of Ireland's fishing industry, which has all but disappeared under the EU, as one of her reasons for voting No. "A friend of mine who is a fisherman appeared in court this week for catching too many fish in the Irish Sea," she said. "He's going to have a criminal record now, and it's crazy."

If Ireland rejects Lisbon on the basis of what might be termed parochial reasons – say, abortion or farming subsidies – and the vote is close, the country could be given opt-outs that would salvage the treaty. But if it votes No by a substantial margin, and the reasons for doing so are varied, it will be impossible to resuscitate the fatally wounded treaty.

The EU will be faced with the prospect of starting all over again with a new document several years hence, or trying to bring in changes one by one. Such an outcome would not, arguably, be a disaster (the EU has managed to keep functioning despite the 2005 Constitution being rejected) but it would leave European leaders with serious questions about the union's future.

The fact that France and Holland rejected the European Constitution in 2005 was a clear warning that support for the project among ordinary people may be waning. This time, only Ireland has dared risk asking what people think. And if a country that has benefited so clearly from EU membership decides to distance itself from Brussels, it would be proof positive of just how far disillusionment with the EU has spread.


The Treaty of Lisbon
The Treaty of Lisbon (also known as the Reform Treaty) is a treaty that would alter how the European Union (EU) works through a series of amendments to the Treaty on European Union (TEU, Maastricht) and the Treaty establishing the European Community (TEC, Rome), the latter being renamed Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) in the process. The two consolidated treaties would form the legal basis of the Union, and combined constitute most of the content of the rejected European Constitution.

Prominent changes in the Treaty of Lisbon include the scrapping of the pillar system, reduced chances of stalemate in the EU Council through more qualified majority voting, a more powerful European Parliament through extended codecision with the EU Council, as well as new tools for more coherent policies and continuity, such as a long-term President of the European Council and a High Representative for Foreign Affairs.

The Treaty was signed on 13 December 2007 in Lisbon (given Portugal held the EU Council's Presidency at the time), and is scheduled to be ratified in all twenty-seven Member States by the end of 2008, in time for the 2009 European elections. As of May 29, 2008, fifteen countries have ratified the Treaty.


http://www.martinfrost.ws/htmlfiles/june2008/irish_euvote.html


  1. What are the arguments in favour of the EU constitution? (15)

    There are a number of arguments advanced in favour of the proposed EU constitution. It can be said to move to formalise a number of treaties and to unify and fully formalise key issues.

    It would also serve to clarify the EU for the new member states and give a clear and more transparent framework under which the enlarged body can function smoothly.

    It is prescriptive in that it defines specific areas where the EU can act and where it cannot. It could, thus, be said to prevent EU encroachment in UK affairs. This can be seen in the so called red line areas not available to be part of the EU agenda.

    Following on from this it could further support the principle of subsidiarity. The workings of the EU institutions and their officials would be made more open and thus more accountable. It opens the possibility for member states to withdraw from the EU which is not currently available.

    From a more EU enthusiastic perspective it could also be said to help bring about a federal EU and to begin to pave the way for yet more economic and social union. Preparing the EU and its members in the face of an ever threatening, globalised economy. It would thus mean the EU can compete with the Far East and the USA.

    (11-15) will display a breadth and depth of detail which illustrate and develop the arguments in favour of the EU constitution. The ability to relate points raised in developed illustrative examples will be both the criteria for entry into the level and the basis for advancement within the level.


    (6-10) will indicate an awareness of the arguments in favour of the EU constitution, but the response will lack full depth and the examples may not be sufficiently developed.


    (0-5) will only marginally develop the arguments in favour of the EU constitution they will be undeveloped and tangential.



    Here's what we went through in class. As you can see my outline actually covers all the points in the examiner's report but places them in a slightly different order and merges some together.

    There are three main advantages to the EU constitution: first, it will streamline the EU. Second, it will add to the effectiveness of both broadening and deepening the EU. Finally, it will make the EU more competitive and effective globally.

    At present the EU's organisation is chaotic, overlapping and costs too much. The constitution would clearly define where the powers of the different EU bodies (i.e. The EU Parliament, the President, the Commissioners, the Council of Ministers etc) lie. It would clarify both the separation of powers and where there is fusion. Related to this is the fact that the EU's bureaucracy is currently overstaffed and overly expensive. This too could be made more effective and more cost-effective in the wake of the constitution's introduction. By doing this, a key demand of Eurosceptics would be met.

    Similarly, the previous agreements and treaties of the last 50 years would be tidied up and organised. The EU effectively has an uncodified constitution (like the UK) the single document would make it more like all its other 26 member states who have a single codified constitution. Following on from this, a clearly defined power structure, a division of responsibilities and a clear lines between supranational and intergovernmental systems will reduce tensions between national governments and the EU – again reducing the attractiveness of Eurosceptics. Moreover, the extended use of QMV will make the EU's performance quicker and more decisive- thus meeting another criticism levelled at the EU. Finally, the simplification of the EU structure will make it more transparent to ordinary citizens – vital if the issue of democratic deficit is to be addressed.

    A second group of advantages the constitution would address is that of broadening and deepening. These are the two basic (at times conflicting) aims of EU membership. Broadening is the idea of increasing the number of member states. At present, any candidate member has to go through a complex series of legal processes before, during and after accession. The sheer volume and diversity of laws, treaties and acquis makes accession longer and more expensive (and controversial). The constitution would streamline this and make it easier for candidate members to harmonise their political systems before accession – leaving them and the EU free to concentrate on economic harmonisation – which is the prize that candidate members seek.

    Deepening – the closer integration of existing members is a vital function of the constitution. If the EU is to achieve a degree of political unity to compliment the economic success of the single market, then a clear single document mirroring their own national constititution is needed. Too many omissions (i.e. How a member would leave the EU) and grey areas exist. The constitution would eliminate these. It could also be modified to reflect changing circumstances faster than the series of treaties and agreements in place at the moment. Again, clarity reduces democratic deficit and the number of Eurosceptics. Also, even though the single market has been on the books since 1992 (Maastricht) – it is still a 'work-in-progress' and so the constitution would move this forward too.

    Finally, the constitution will make the EU more effective and competitive globally. The EU could achieve its superpower potential if it could act in a more unified, decisive manner in a greater variety of areas than it does now. Additionally, the constitution could give Europe a similar federal\state division that allows the USA the best of both worlds – namely the economy of scale/mass markets and global presence while retaining local characteristics and customs.
    The EU's success at the WTO has shown how effective this level of representation is. Airbus can compete against Boeing – US government backing for it can be countered. The constitution will increase the EU's scope in foreign affairs, helping to provide an alternative to US foreign policy. Currently, the EU has tried a soft power approach to Iran's nuclear programme. Arguably the threats of EU sanctions are forcing more Iranian compliance than US threats of military action. As the constitution proposes an EU foreign minister, these vital roles will be enhanced. The individual states, the EU and the world system will all benefit.
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    EU Constitution.


    Wiki - Main Points
    Length and complexity
    Qualified majority voting ( qualified majority voting Link to wikipedia article on QMV)

Union law and national law

Trappings of statehood

Democracy

Secularism

Militarism

Economic Policy

Human rights

EU Constitution - Points of contention


Versions of the Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe in the English language, published by the European Union for the general public. From left to right: the draft by the European Convention; the full Intergovernmental Conference version (text as signed by plenipotentiaries to be ratified) with the protocols and annexes; the abridged version with the European Parliament's resolution of endorsement, but without the protocols and annexes, for visitors to the European Parliament. Versions in other European languages were also published.
The TCE's attempt to codify all previous treaties increased its length and complexity tremendously and aroused deep suspicions of its effects among holders of widely differing European points of view. Eurosceptics (particularly in the United Kingdom) saw it as entrenching a European superstate, whilst the left (particularly in France) alleged that it is a sort of neoliberal Washington consensus for Europe. It was also criticised for confusing constitutional and structural questions with questions of policy which would not usually be contained in a constitutional document (although they were contained in the various treaties which preceded it). Opponents to neoliberalism maintain their initial viewpoint, in favour of European integration, but against antisocial policies (it may be compared to the November 2005 Mar del Plata Summit of the Americas and to its opposition to the Free Trade Area of the Americas). Thus, the opposition between proponents and opponents of the TCE is both a "national sovereignty vs. European integration" debate and a "neoliberal vs. social policies" debate.

Length and complexity

Critics of the TCE point out that, compared to some existing national constitutions (such as the 4,600-word United States Constitution), it is very long, at over 160,000 words in its English version, including declarations and protocols. It is also written in technical legal language which has proved difficult even for specialists to understand, and highly inaccessible to the general public.
Proponents say that the document nevertheless remains considerably shorter and less complex than the existing set of treaties that it consolidates, but even the drafters of the CT have suggested that they were wrong to attempt, at the same time and in one document, both construction of a constitution and consolidation of all previous treaties, regardless of the nature of their provisions. Had they not done so, the TCE could have been much shorter, simpler and easier to grasp. Defenders of the length of the document say it is not an overarching general constitution, but a development of the previous treaties.

Qualified majority voting

Qualified majority voting is extended to an additional 26 decision-making areas that had previously required unanimity. Opponents of the TCE argue that this involves a loss of sovereignty and decision-making power for individual countries. Defenders argue that these provisions only apply in the areas where member states have agreed it should and not otherwise; that it was necessary to prevent decision-making from grinding to a halt in the enlarged Union. (In the past, there have been cases when it appeared that "veto trading" was being used tactically rather than for issues of principle.) Further, the "qualified majority voting" mechanism is structured such that a blocking minority is not difficult to achieve for matters of substance.

Union law and national law

Critics sometimes claim that it is unacceptable for the TCE to enshrine European laws as taking precedence over national laws, because this is an erosion of national sovereignty.
Defenders say it has always been the case that EU law supersedes national law. The TCE does not change this arrangement for either existing or future EU law. However, the question of whether the arrangement is considered acceptable in the first place is still an issue for debate.
With the widening of qualified majority voting also envisaged in the TCE, however, the issue of the primacy of EU law becomes more sensitive. This is because there is an increase in the number of areas in which laws can be passed by majority vote, and thus an increase in the number of areas where it is possible for an individual country to vote against a proposal (unsuccessfully) and subsequently find its national legislature to be bound it.

Trappings of statehood

It has been argued that the TCE introduces a number of elements that are traditionally the province of sovereign states: flag, motto, anthem. While these have no special legal status, and all exist already, this is something some see as a shift towards the future creation of a single European state, and a possible corresponding loss of national identity. Many eurosceptics oppose the TCE for this reason.
Defenders of the TCE argue that none of these elements are new, although their formal inclusion in a constitutional treaty is obviously new, and that many of them are also used by other international organisations. They also argue that key principles enshrined in the TCE, such as the principles of conferral and subsidiarity, reinforce the status of member states as cooperating sovereign nations.
It has likewise been argued that to call the document a "Constitution" rather than a "treaty" implies a change in the nature of the EU, from an association of cooperating countries to a single state or something approaching a state. In response, it has been pointed out that many international organisations, including the World Health Organisation, have constitutions, without implying that they are states. From a legal point of view the TCE will still be a treaty between independent states.
Some people have said that it may be more appropriate to hold Europe Day on the original Council of Europe designated date of May 5, as opposed to the current EU and TCE-proposed May 9, the commemoration date of the end of the Second World War in Europe for much of formerly Soviet dominated eastern Europe – many of which are now EU member states. The western European equivalent, VE Day is on May 8. The choice of May 9 by the European Community in 1985 was because that was the day on which the Schuman declaration was made. Some eurosceptics have said that the Council of Europe day of May 5, celebrating the Council of Europe and its values of human rights, parliamentary democracy and the rule of law, would be more worth celebrating than the presentation of proposals about coal and steel by a French minister to the German government – symbolising as it does the founding of the Franco-German engine, a concept which many see as a mechanism for excluding others from EU decision making. (The symbols of the EU in the proposed constitution are listed in Article I-8 of the full document)

Democracy

While the TCE does not give any more power to the European Commission, it has been argued that by failing to reduce the Commission's powers, it perpetuates the perceived democratic deficit of the European Union as a whole.
As Commissioners are nominated by member countries and approved by the European Parliament, rather than being directly elected by the people, it is argued that the Commission – essentially the executive of the Union – holds more power than it should in an optimally democratic system.
Although it remains the case that the Commission has no law-making power, and may only draft proposals for the consideration of directly elected representatives in Parliament and Council, there are several ways in which the Commission can bring pressure to bear on these two bodies nonetheless. It may, for instance, threaten to withdraw a legislative proposal (as in the debate on the Directive on the patentability of computer-implemented inventions on 23 September 2003). It may also require the Council of Ministers to reach unanimous agreement rather than majority approval if the Commission does not approve Parliament's proposed amendments during the first reading of the codecision procedure. However, it cannot impose any laws, as the approval of at least a qualified majority (well over two-thirds of the votes) in the Council and usually of the European Parliament is needed.
The TCE would have enhanced parliamentary scrutiny by widening the areas on which the European Parliament's approval is needed to cover almost all legislation adopted by the Council, by providing for the President of the Commission to be elected by the Parliament, by giving national parliaments a right of prior scrutiny before proposals are dealt with by the Council of Ministers and by enhancing parliamentary scrutiny over secondary implementing measures.
But some of the other of the TCE's measures intended to enhance democracy are said by some to be unavailing. For instance, the obligation for the Commission to consider a petition by 1 million citizens only "invites" such a petition to be "considered"; it is open to the Commission to decide how to react, including ignoring the petition if it wishes. Detractors thus argues that this new provision is pointless. In response, it has been argued that it would not be feasible in practice for the Commission to ignore a mandate from a million citizens. Opponents argue that the Commission is not a directly elected body and therefore have no electorate which could bring such pressure to bear against the will of Commissioners, but defenders further point out that MEPs, who are directly elected, have the power to scrutinise, censure and if necessary dismiss the Commission.
Drawing on parallels with UK civil service traditions, some in the UK would like to see the power to propose legislation removed from the Commission, and the Commission turned into a less political body along UK civil service lines. This is an alternative to other proposals to make the Commission "more democratic". The power to propose legislation would fall to the legislature, either the Council of Ministers, or the European Parliament, or both. This would remove one of the frequent charges of some quarters of the UK press – that of the Commission being "faceless unelected bureaucrats".
See also //democratic deficit//.

Secularism

There was a debate about whether to include a reference to Christianity in the TCE. The and even the former Polish president Aleksander Kwaśniewski, who himself is an agnostic, advocated such a move to reflect Europe's Christian history, but France and some NGOs took a strongly secular stance. In the end, a compromise agreement included a reference in the preamble to "the cultural, religious and humanist inheritance of Europe".

Militarism

Article I-41(3) states that: "Member States shall undertake progressively to improve their military capabilities". It has been argued that this will prevent all partial disarming of any of the states to require them to increase military capabilities without taking into account the geopolitical situation, or the will of the people. The creation of a European weapon office may also lead to an increase of the worldwide arms race, according to some analyses.
Others point out that the same article limits any EU joint military action to "peace-keeping, conflict prevention and strengthening international security" based on UN principles. It is only under this framework that countries agree to develop their military capabilities.

Economic policy

Some commentators, eRoman Catholic Churchspecially within France, have expressed a fear that the proposed Constitution may force upon European countries a Neo-Liberal economic framework which will threaten the "European social model". The principles of the "free movement of capital" (both inside the EU and with third countries), and of "free and undistorted competition", are stated several times, and it has been argued that they cover all areas, from health care to energy to transport. However, there are also concerns among commentators in Britain as well as Central and Eastern European countries that it enshrines too many socialist principles, such as the rights of workers' unions, and the right to strike. The principle of free movement of capital and the goal of encouraging competition have already been included in the Treaties of Rome, dating from 1956.
The European Central Bank remains independent of any democratic institution, and its only purpose is to fight inflation. This contrasts with other organisations, such as the U.S. Federal Reserve, which also has the goal of fighting unemployment.
It has also been argued that existing national constitutions do not fix economic policies inside the TCE itself: it is more common for elected governments to retain the power to decide on economic policy.

Human rights

Some opponents argue that since some fundamental human rights are not explicitly enumerated by the TCE's Charter of Fundamental Rights, they are not recognised by that charter.
In response, defenders point out that the charter does not affect the laws of EU member states, since all member states are already signatories to the European Convention on Human Rights.
Instead, the charter applies only to the EU institutions themselves. The EU's accession to the Convention is intended to solve the question of clash between two human rights bills, so that in actual fact the Constitution's charter would be construed in exactly the same way as the existing and binding Convention. There would thus be no change in legal position. [3]
From: [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eu_constitution#Points_of_contention%3C/span%3E%3C/span%3E%3C/span%3E%3C/span%3E%3C/span%3E%3C/span%3E%3C/span%3E%3C/span%3E%3C/span|http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eu_constitution#Points_of_contention</span]]>
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From The Times
October 18, 2007
We must stand up to this cynical stitch-up
It’s the elites of Europe versus the people

Camilla Cavendish
Tonight, Europe’s leaders will be picking over some Euro-trivia along with their hors d’oeuvres. The Austrians are worried that Germany might nick their medical students. The Poles want an extra court official on the European Court of Justice. The Bulgarians want to use the word “evro” instead of “euro” – which has upset the European Central Bank. These are, apparently, the last stumbling blocks to agreement on the draft EU treaty.
No one at this dinner will be asking why what was intended to be a free trading zone is steadily granting itself the power to legislate in almost every area of national life. No one will be expressing concern that a majority of citizens, in 16 out of 27 member states, say they want no extension of EU power. No one will ask whether it would be better to return to an à la carte menu rather than proceed with the fixed-price group dinner – same dish for everyone, only choice house white or house red – that leaves such a bad taste in the mouth. No. My guess is they’ll just keep munching.
Our Government keeps saying that this treaty is not the same as the old constitution, despite the mockery of almost everyone who has read it. But in one way it is different: it’s even less readable. And that, as senior politicians in Germany and Belgium and Italy have explained, is deliberate. This is an utterly cynical exercise, and our own politicians are cheapened by it.
What’s in the treaty? Britain will lose around 50 vetoes in areas including health, energy and laws for the self-employed. Our power to form blocking coalitions with other nations will also be considerably diminished, because the thresholds will be changed. So proposals that we have been successfully blocking – one of my favourites is making the police give every suspect a piece of A4, listing their EU rights – will almost certainly become law. That’s before you get to any “red lines”.
From a wider European point of view, the democratic gap between every nation and its citizens will grow again. Nation states will lose control of policing and justice matters. It used to be thought that the ability to define what was a crime and what was not, to police that crime and to determine the appropriate sentence for it, were matters for sovereign states alone. When the European Community was set up, justice and home affairs were kept strictly separate, as was foreign policy. This treaty waves those principles aside. That is why this treaty is historic, not the historical footnote that the politicians would have us believe.
Is this the right direction for Europe to take? Are we are really going to meet the Asian challenge by increasing regulations on business, creating a 3,500-strong diplomatic corps and spending £12 billion on an EU space programme? The Eurofighter airplanes that rolled off the production line last month were 20 years late and designed for the Cold War. There could hardly be a better symbol of Europe’s need to be nimbler, focused on fewer issues.
Yet no one in power seems prepared to make that argument. In the past few weeks, the British Government has sparred with the media over the meaning of its “red lines” – the few places where it has dared to stand up for its independence. But criticism from the European Scrutiny Committee and others has made it clear that these safeguards are not watertight, because they will be open to challenge in the courts.
The reality of today’s Europe is that politicians do not know the consequences of the laws they approve, because the European Court of Justice can extend the scope of EU powers in so many ways. The US Supreme Court, on which it is modelled, has extended its power far beyond that ever envisaged by the Founding Fathers. But at least America has a culture of judicial restraint. The EU has none. The British cannot evade this by saying that no Parliament can bind its successors. We voters cannot throw out EU laws by changing government.
Those who want the new treaty argue that it is just another step in the process of centralisation. But just because ordinary people are only gradually waking up to the drip-dripping away of their power does not mean that they should be denied a say in it. Some argue that a referendum would end up being a vote on the direction of the EU. But it should be. The EU needs to change direction, and its citizens want it to. The battleground is not Britain versus Europe, it is the elites versus the people.
The irony is that, six years ago, EU leaders seemed to agree. In the Laeken declaration of 2001, they specifically asked for more transparency, democracy and subsidiarity (powers returned to nation states). What they got was Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, who subverted the process and dismissed proposals by the Dutch and British, notably the Labour MP Gisela Stuart, for greater democracy. His constitution remained the template even after French and Dutch voters rejected it, I suspect partly for want of a clearly spelt-out alternative.
Tony Blair ducked making the case for a different kind of Europe. But the EU arguably needs Britain more than we need the EU. Britain is one of the biggest financial contributors to the Union. Its armed forces are central to EU hopes of wielding any real humanitarian or defence role. It is the world’s financial centre. The Dutch and French were not banished to Lapland when they said no to the constitution. But by acting as though he could be, Mr Blair left his successor in a tight spot.
The whole question of Gordon Brown’s premiership has now become one of trust. Can he risk being party to an EU stitch-up? He may not have the stomach to pick any real fight over dinner tonight. But if he could give Parliament a free vote, or better still give us all a vote, it might prove to be his salvation – and, ironically, that of the EU.

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