The Union of European Federalists (UEF), a supranational organisation presided over by Jo LEINEN MEP, welcomes the compromise proposal of the Convention as an important step towards a more democratic, transparent and effective European Union. In our eyes the election of the Commission President by the European Parliament, the integration of the EU Charter of fundamental rights and the creation of a strong EU Foreign Minister are the most important achievements.
But in other fields the Convention failed to come up with courageous proposals necessary to meet the challenges of enlargement and globalisation. The UEF criticizes in particular that there are still fields of EU decision-making that are not subject to co-decision of the European Parliament, and that unanimity within the Council is retained in such key areas as EU Foreign and security policy. The principle of unanimity in a Union of 25 States undermines the democratic principle and weakens the capacity of the EU to act effectively.
UEF appeals to the Convention to repair the current deficiencies of the Constitution in its July session and propose to extent qualified majority voting to all EU decisions.
The UEF criticizes the retention of the unanimity rule for the adoption and revision of the Constitution. The right of any single state to veto constitutional changes must be abandoned. The Constitution must formally enter into force when it has been ratified by a big majority of member states.
Some of the reforms can and should already be introduced in the year 2004, before the formal entry into force. The European elections in June 2004 must be transformed into elections for the Parliament AND the Commission, i.e. the European Government. The first EU Minister of Foreign Affairs must start together with the new Commission in November 2004. The Charter of Fundamental Rights should be a point of reference for the Court of Justice. And the members states willing to intensify their cooperation in specific policy fields, e.g. Common Foreign, Security and Defence policy, should immediately build up efficient cooperation structures.
After the entry into force of the Constitution the new facility of “the people’s initiative” might be used to promote further reforms of the EU architecture. A new Convention should come together 5 years after the entry into force of the Constitution to further strengthen the democratic legitimacy and effectiveness of the EU.