TREATY CHANGE & CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION

The institutional architecture of the European Union is founded on treaties among its Member States, namely the Treaty on the European Union (TEU) and the Treaty on the functioning of the European Union (TFEU). Protocols defining different special arrangements and opt-outs also exist.

FEDERALISTS BELIEVE THAT A REFORM OF THE TREATIES IS URGENTLY NEEDED:

(1) to provide a more robust legal basis and democratic legitimacy to the recent measures taken to tackle the economic and financial crisis of the Eurozone
(2) to establish a fiscal union for the European Union or at least the Eurozone,
(3) to reform decision-making mechanisms to increase the democratic legitimacy and ability to act of the European institutions moving towards a closer political union.

The use of intergovernmental arrangements outside the treaty structures (such as the Fiscal Compact treaty and the treaty in relation to the Bank Resolution Mechanism currently under discussion) may serve a purpose to solve a deadlock among member states or as temporary measure, but then they need to be integrated in a coherent way in the treaty structure.

Article 48 of the Treaty on the European Union provides for two procedures to amend the European Union Treaties, the simplified revision procedure and the ordinary revision procedure:

1) In the simplified procedure, changes are agreed in the European Council, after consulting Parliament and Commission, and must then be ratified by all Member States. This procedure can be applied only for changes to Part III (Union Policies and Internal Action) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union and cannot be used for amendments that increase the powers of the Union.

2) The ordinary procedure starts with a European Council decision (by simple majority) to examine an amendment to the treaty proposed by a member state, the European Parliament or the Commission. The President of the European Council shall then call for a Convention composed by members of the national and European Parliaments, the heads of state and government, the Commission and in some cases the European Central Bank.

Federalists believe that the required scope of a treaty change is of such a magnitude that a convention is required, under the current treaty. Moreover, proposed changes are of such an importance, and they could affect national sovereignty so deeply, that an involvement of representatives of the citizens in the European and national parliaments and an open and public debate are absolutely essential to create political consensus and democratic legitimacy for such changes. Therefore federalists are on the front-line in calling for a constitutional convention as soon as possible after the European elections.

A reform of the Treaty would, no doubt, also encounter proposals by some member states and some Euro-skeptic parties to claw-back powers from the European Union. However, we believe that the case for a treaty reform is so overwhelming that such expected oppositions need to be faced openly and considered by the court of European public opinion. If necessary, a new status of associated membership could be offered to the United Kingdom, and other member states, who are not in the Eurozone, if they wish only to participate in the single market and withdraw from the rest of the European Union policies and institutions.

Mechanisms should be agreed to ensure that, contrary to the current treaties, any new treaty can enter into force (and can subsequently be amended) when ratified by a minimum number of member states, representing a minimum threshold of the European citizens.

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