Select Committee on European Union Forty-First Report


Some views from other Member States

We have sought to determine the views of some other Member States' governments and parliaments on the draft Treaty.

According to the European Report on 10 September 2003:

·  Smaller Member States have reservations about the proposed changes to the Commission

·  Spain wants to retain its voting weight as agreed at Nice

·  Finland wants to review the QMV provisions

·  Denmark has concerns about matters of Justice and Home affairs, defence and their euro opt-out.

Our own research on the websites of the governments and parliaments of selected Member States has revealed the following. This is necessarily a selective account, reflecting what we had discovered by the time we agreed the report. It is not intended to be exhaustive or comprehensive but to give a flavour of the debate. We know that a number of other national parliaments, including in Greece and Ireland, are considering the issues raised by the draft Treaty.


The Danish Government published a position paper on the IGC in September 2003. In general, the Danish government supports the draft Treaty as a good basis for negotiations, as a good 'compromise between many different interests'. The key-points raised by the paper are:

-The draft Treaty confirms the EU as a Union of Member States 'It establishes that the EU is based on co-operation that is entered into voluntarily by equal sovereign states, which respects the national identity of Member States and the fundamental rights of citizens'.

-The Danish government would want to see a permanent President of the European Council whose 'job description is to contain a delimitation of competence vis-à-vis the EU Foreign minister and the Commission President'. Meanwhile, 'maintaining full and equal rotation of the Presidency of the individual Council formations will, in our opinion, contribute to ensuring that the EU remains deeply rooted in the Member States'.

-Denmark is sceptical of a separate Legislative Council and wishes to maintain sectoral Ministers' responsibility for EU legislation within their areas.

-The Danish government is of the view that present voting rules in the Council are unnecessarily complicated and is open to new rules being adopted. Denmark supports the proposed extensions of QMV but remain firm on unanimity on social and labour market policy.

-The Danish government supports the new composition of the Commission as proposed by the draft Treaty.

-The Danish Government supports enhanced co-operation between Member States in CFSP and is 'open to the view that unanimity does not apply to all issues'. It is also supportive of the proposed new Union Minister for Foreign Affairs, subject to the detailed job description being agreed satisfactorily.

-On defence, the Danish government is prepared to consider a smaller group of countries entering into enhanced co-operation 'provided it is based on clear rules, on equal terms, and is open to all'.

-The Danish government interprets the draft Treaty as providing for enhanced coordination of Member States policy and is supportive of this change. Further, 'we are open to discuss whether the Commission's role is to be strengthened in the procedure for excessive budget deficits'.

-The Danish government wishes to see stronger co-operation in the areas of freedom, security and justice.


Prime Minister Vanhanen, in his submission to Parliament on 29 August, expressed concern about:

·  The idea of a permanent president of the Council. Finland is prepared to accept this proposal, however, provided that 'inter-institutional balance and member-state equality are preserved'. Moreover, Finland expects the President to have a representational and chairing role rather than a policy role.

·  the limited extension of QMV, i.e. Finland is happy about more QMV, including in foreign affairs.

·  the openness of the Council. Finland thinks more could be done to increase the transparency of the Council. Note however that Finland does not think a Legislative Council is a good idea.

·   a core group of countries pursuing closer defence co-operation in the name of the EU. This sits very uncomfortably with Finland's tradition of neutrality.

However, Vanhanen stressed that all of the above is negotiable. What is not negotiable for Finland is the composition of the Commission (if the Prague statement of 1 September of 15 other small countries is anything to go by, this would seem to be the case for most of the small countries). Finland will insist on a one Commissioner per country formula. Moreover, Finland does not see any reason why the IGC must be concluded by December.

The Finnish parliament was generally supportive of the government's position. The Finnish Parliament is not interested the idea of red card/yellow card system. The MPs seem very satisfied with the amount of influence they have over European affairs through their own government - in their view having to deal with the Commission and other national parliaments might not add value.


The French government has not come out with any statement except comments by senior ministers - reported on the European websites, but always unattributed - in support of what seems to be a common position of the original six Member States.

The French government has been one of the strongest advocates against unravelling the compromise presented in the draft Treaty. Foreign. According to press reports the French government has linked budget negotiations on the new financial perspectives with the IGC negotiations, threatening Spain and Poland in particular with financial repercussion if they insist on maintaining the Nice voting system.[136]

France, along with Turkey, is also the main country resisting any references to Europe's Christian heritage in the draft Treaty. President Chirac is reported to have said "France is a lay state and as such she does not have a habit of calling for insertions of a religious nature into constitutional texts".[137]

The Assemblée Nationale's EU Committee held a joint session to review the draft Treaty with the German Bundestag's Committee for EU matters on 24 September. The Senate EU Committee met on 30 September to discuss the draft Treaty. Both French Committees expressed their broad support for the draft Treaty as it stands. The Senate's délégation pour l'Union européenne considered three key questions:

-Does this project, presented as a 'Constitution', modify relations between the Union and the Member States?

-What changes does the draft Treaty propose to the functioning of the Union?

-Does the draft treaty develop the role of the Union ?

In relation to the first question, the Committee concludes that the draft Treaty does not substantially alter the present balance: the EU will remain a Union of Member States rather than become a federal state. The second section sets out the proposed changes to legislative procedure and the EU institutions. The final section concludes that the Union's competencies are no more clearly delimited in the draft treaty than in the present treaties. However, the draft treaty provides for national parliaments to be able to monitor that the Union does not exceed its competence. The Committee makes the observation that while the draft treaty proposes a clear mechanism for monitoring subsidiarity, nothing comparable is proposed for proportionality.

Overall, the Committee appears to consider the draft treaty favourably as it simplifies the treaties and provides the Union with more effective representation and decision-making structures.

For the French Assembly, see the joint declaration under "Germany", below.


The German Government website has a number of articles stating that ministers want the present text to be adopted without intervention at the IGC. The Bundestag, however, in a report by the EU Committee (4 June 2003) offers a different view:

·  It agrees that Own Resources should be determined by unanimity.

·  The subsidiarity clause should be strengthened, but the report makes no mention of the red card.

·  It would like a mention of God in the preamble, or at least a clear reference to religious values.

·  The Open Method of Coordination should be limited to exchange of information and experience and not become a decision-making process. Levels of immigration should be determined by the Member States.

Joint Declaration by the Deutscher Bundestag and the French Assembly, 3 October2003

We take pleasure in sending you a joint declaration on "The Intergovernmental Conference and the European Constitution" adopted unanimously by the European Affairs Committee of the German Bundestag and the Delegation pour I'Union Européenne of the French Assemblée Nationale at a joint committee meeting in Paris on 24 September 2003.

In the run-up to the IGC, we felt it was essential to emphasise the quality of the draft Constitution presented by the European Convention and the need to preserve the balanced compromise it represents. In their joint declaration both Committees also stress their intention to enhance the role of national parliaments in the European process and to closely follow the negotiations at the IGC with the aim of ensuring transparency and democratic legitimacy.

At the COSAC meeting in Stockholm in 2001 the European Affairs Committees of the national parliaments and the European Parliament paved the way for parliaments to play a new and expanded role in the European process. Since the next COSAC (5-7 October) is to take place shortly after the opening of the IGC, it would be important to take this opportunity to demonstrate our common desire to uphold the spirit of the Convention and to ensure close parliamentary scrutiny of the IGC's work.

Matthias Wissman, MdB            Pierre Lequiller

Chairman                Chairman

Joint Declaration by the Délégation pour l'Union Européenne of the Assemblée Nationale and the Committee on the Affairs of the European Union of the German Bundestag on the Intergovernmental Conference and the European Constitution

Within a matter of days, the Italian Presidency of the European Council will open the Intergovernmental Conference on the European constitution. In light of this occasion, the Délégation pour l'Union Européenne of the Assemblée Nationale and the Committee on the Affairs of the European Union of the German Bundestag jointly reaffirm their support for the draft Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe, which was adopted by the European Convention On 13 June and 10 July2003.

Under M. Valéry Giscard d'Estaing's successful presidency, the best possible outcome has been achieved with this draft, which is a coherent and unified document. The Convention has succeeded, through a judicious combination of ambition and realism, in drawing together the disparate requirements of enlargement and deepening to create a European constitution which will continue to evolve. In doing so, it has safeguarded the enlarged Union's capacity to act through a clear division of powers.

Notwithstanding the necessarily divergent positions of the various actors, the Convention method, which was initiated by parliamentarians, has shown itself to be a successful new negotiating instrument for Treaty reform, involving the European Parliament, the national Parliaments and governments, and the European Commission. The Convention method has strengthened the parliamentary dimension and democracy in European politics. We therefore welcome the fact that draft Treaty revisions will in future be scrutinized in a Convention process after consultation with the European Parliament and the Commission. This approach will ensure not only more closeness to citizens, more democracy and transparency, but also efficient and future-oriented results.

We endorse the conclusions of the Thessaloniki European Council of 20 June 2003 and its decision on the draft Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe. We urge the Intergovernmental Conference to respect this draft as a good basis for its work and request that it bring the Convention's open, pluralist and consensus-minded spirit to the IGC's conference table too.

The Convention has supplied the national governments with a sound basis, whose further treatment will be monitored very closely by the German and French Parliaments. We are in favour of a fixed timetable for the Intergovernmental Conference. The successful conclusion of the Intergovernmental Conference is extremely important for the future of the enlarged Union. We urge the Member States to conclude the Intergovernmental Conference within a short timeframe, preferably by December 2003, so that a broad public debate can take place before the constitution is signed on Europe Day, 9 May 2004, just before the European elections take place in June.

We welcome the pledge that the European Parliament will be closely involved in the deliberations at the Intergovernmental Conference. We call on the Heads of State and Government to inform the national Parliaments promptly about all aspects of the Intergovernmental Conference's work. Regular and detailed exchange with the national Parliaments will also ease the way for subsequent ratification. We therefore wish to see an intensive exchange of views between the national Parliaments and the European Parliament in this context. This is possible, for example, at the meetings with representatives of the national Parliaments which are to be organized by the European Parliament's Committee on Constitutional Affairs, and at meetings of the Convention's parliamentary members, as proposed by the Vice-President of the Italian Senate, Lamberto Dini. In this exchange of information and ideas, the European Parliament's observers at the Intergovernmental Conference would play a particularly important role.

The role of the national Parliaments in the European Union must be further strengthened, especially through stronger controls over their governments' actions in European affairs. The draft Constitution grants them more opportunities for participation. In this context, the national Parliaments have a central role as the guardians of subsidiarity. Through this involvement at the start of, and throughout, the legislative process, the national Parliaments will have the opportunity to take on more responsibility, especially through their scrutiny of the Council's work. Moreover, it is important to explore how Europe's significance can be underlined more effectively in the national Parliaments. One option is to proceed on the basis of the proposal made by René van der Linden, the Dutch parliamentary representative in the Convention, that in future, the relevant committees of all the Member States' national Parliaments and the European Parliament should deliberate the European Commission's annual work programme in the same week of sittings. This would reinforce the importance of the Commission's work and parliamentary scrutiny thereof at national level, and would also help to enhance democracy in European politics and therefore encourage the development of a European consciousness.

We are convinced that a key task for the national Parliaments and the European Parliament in the coming months will be to promote broad popular approval for and acceptance of the constitutional process. As the Délégation pour l'Union Européene and the Committee on the Affairs of the European Union of the German Bundestag, we therefore propose that the deliberations and outcomes of the Intergovernmental Conference be dealt with, as far as possible, in parallel sittings of the Assemblée Nationale and the German Bundestag.

As part of their close cooperation, the Délégation pour l'Union Européenne of the Assemblée Nationale and the Committee on the Affairs of the European Union of the German Bundestag will continue to engage in an exchange of information on their positions on the Intergovernmental Conference and hold joint sittings in order to ensure that the historic project to establish a constitution for Europe is brought to a successful conclusion.


Briefing of diplomatic journalists by Foreign Ministry spokesman Mr. Panagiotis Beglitis:

 "The third issue to which I would like to refer is the progress of negotiations at the Intergovernmental Conference. You will already know that the proceedings of the Intergovernmental Conference began with the meeting last Saturday in Rome. The essential negotiations will be held on the level of Foreign Ministers at the meetings they will have, as scheduled by the Italian Presidency, on the margins of the General Affairs Council, and, of course, the political issues that are not resolved on the level of Foreign Ministers will go to the level of Heads of State and Government, the first meeting of whom has been scheduled by the Italian Presidency on October 16-17, in Brussels.

For us, as stressed by both the Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, the Draft Constitution Treaty voices the general balances of the 25. It is a text that we would like to be stronger in the direction of Federal prospects, but looking at the interrelations realistically, it is a positive compromise, a positive composition of individual opinions and proposals. We believe that the general architecture and structure of the Draft Constitution Treaty must remain as is, because otherwise we risk opening Pandora's box, as the Prime Minister said in Rome, with incalculable consequences for developments in the European Union.

This doesn't mean that the Draft Constitution Treaty does not require additions, changes, or some clarifications, and based on this position we will continue the negotiations on the level of Foreign Minister Mr. Papandreou.

I would like at this point to note two basic issues that Greece will focus attention on during the negotiations. Two issues that have already been brought to the attention of the Italian Presidency, and which were reiterated by Mr. Papandreou at the evening conference of Foreign Ministers in Rome.

The first issue is the composition of the European Commission and the responsibilities of Commissioners. We must say that the Draft Constitution Treaty establishes the principle of "one Commissioner for every member state". Our concern and our proposal refer to the issue of the responsibilities of the Commissioners. We do not agree to the separation of Commissioners into European Commissioners who will have responsibilities and will participate in the College, and Commissioners of, let's say, a second category, to whom ad hoc responsibilities will be given, and who will not have the right to vote and will not participate in the College.

Our proposal is that all Commissioners should have the right to vote and participate in the College. In an attempt to find a compromise solution on this, given that there is support for the proposal contained in the Draft Constitution Treaty, our proposal is that even the Commissioners, the second category of Commissioners, must have the right to vote on those issues for which they are made responsible, and to participate in the College of Commissioners.

This is an issue in which we are particularly interested and on which we will focus our negotiating strategy in the coming period.

The second issue on which we will focus our negotiating tactics is the issue of the qualified majority. Let me remind you that in the Draft Constitution Treaty the majority is defined as consisting of the majority of the Member States, representing at least three fifths of the population of the European Union. We believe that the democratic principle of majority is better expressed - and that possible attempts of a suspending minority might be averted - by the proposal for a majority of Member States consisting of a majority of 50% plus 1, of the population of the European Union.

With this proposal we are much closer to respecting the democratic principle of majority, and we will lay great importance on this during the coming negotiations.

In any case, though, the position of Greece is that the general balance of the text of the Draft Constitution Treaty - its general architecture and structure, as I said before - should not be changed. What is of specific interest to us is that the negotiations be completed within the timeframe provided, so that afterwards there will be time for the completion of the processes of ratification, whether through referendums in the members states, or through national parliaments, as dictated by national constitutions.

There are two important dates before us in 2004. One is May 1, 2004, when the ten new members will formally accede to the European Union, and the other is that of the June 2004 European elections. And for this reason, because of these two important events in the European Union, we believe that the process of negotiations on the Draft Constitution Treaty must be completed soon, so as to avoid any problem with the progress of the European Union and the formulation of a new institutional and political framework."

Monday, 6 October 2003


The Dutch Foreign Minister and EU Minister on 16 September presented to the House of Commons ("Twede Kamer") a report on the 'state of the EU' (De staat van de Europese Unie) which provides background on the Convention and goes through the text section by section stating which points followed the Dutch Government's wish and identifies, albeit briefly, those matters that it wanted included which did not get through to the final text.

On our Government's firm commitment to unanimity with regards to Community Own Resource (Art 53.4) the Dutch Government states: ' it is proposed that the level of Own Resources should continue to be determined by unanimity, Member State ratification and European Parliament consultation'. It seems the UK line in favour of the UK rebate will be supported (for similar support from the German Bundestag, see above).

The Dutch Government also states that it does not think a specific date should be given for the end of the IGC, 'the overriding criterium for conclusion of the IGC must be the quality of the final product' (p.46) - they are content for the Treaty to be signed in Rome whenever it is agreed.

The Dutch Parliament has not reacted to this statement (as of 17 September).


RESOLUTION of the Sejm of the Republic Poland of 2nd October 2003 on a Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe

Compliance with the will of the Nation, as expressed in the referendum on 7th and 8th June 2003, involves Poland's active participation in de-fining the principles of European co-operation. We want to take part in the creation of a European Union as a commonwealth of sovereign states, a Union which combines effective Community mechanisms with respect for cultures and national identities. The Sejm of the Republic of Poland sup-ports the preserving of the principle of unanimity in relation to those issues which affect vital interests of the Members States.

The objectives of the Convention, specified by the European Council in Laeken in December 2001, have been mostly achieved as a result of numerous compromises. The Sejm believes that the future Constitutional Treaty will provide the basis for a new and strong Europe, a Europe founded on respect for the values and rights of every individual in the UE, in which Poland will assume her rightful place within the family of democratic nations who share the values of freedom and solidarity.

The Sejm acknowledges great progress made by the Convention, including, in particular, confirmation of objectives, missions and values determining the idea and practice of integration of communities, incorporation of the Charter of Fundamental Rights into the Treaty, clear specification of competences, simplification of the system of legal acts and also an increased transparency and democratisation of the functioning of the Un-ion.

We support the strengthening of the role of the European Parliament and the extension of its co-decision powers, as well as an increased role of national parliaments in the control of the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality.

The Sejm supports the Government's position presented during the debate by the Minister of Foreign Affairs. The Sejm of the Republic of Poland expects the Polish delegation to the Intergovernmental Conference to:

-Insist on the incorporation of Christian values into the Preamble to the Constitutional Treaty;

-Recognise the Atlantic Alliance as the basis of the European security in the light of new defence initiatives based on cooptation and competitive to NATO;

-Adhere to the principle of, one state - one commissioner" and the principle of collective presidency of the Council;

-Refrain from giving consent to the weakening of Poland's position in the Council of the Union as compared to that guaranteed by the principles adopted in 2000 in Nice, which were known to Poles when they voted in the European referendum. We urge the Government to take a strong position on this issue, and to use its veto power if our reasons are not convincing to the Intergovernmental Conference of the European Union.

The Sejm of the Republic of Poland calls on the Government to include the following phrase in the Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe, in Subsection 2: "Aids granted by Member States", in Article III-56 paragraph 2 subparagraph c: "aid granted to the economy of certain areas affected by the division of Europe after the Second World War, insofar as such aid is required in order to compensate for the economic disadvantages caused by that division".

Poland's participation in the historic act of European unification crowns great national efforts made after 1989. Mindful of our responsibility to future generations, we have to use this historic chance, and this means that we should be better prepared for accession and for benefit from our forthcoming membership of the EU.

FOR MARSHAL [SPEAKER] OF THE SEJM Tomasz Na³êcz Vice-Marshal


The Swedish Government have made a few comments in their annual address - but will be publishing a paper 'later' in the term setting out their full views.

The following excerpt from the address gives a flavour:

"The Intergovernmental Conference on the future of Europe will open on 4 October. A communication on the Convention will shortly be presented to the Riksdag. The Government is seeking broad consensus on the shape of the future constitutional Treaty. Close consultation will be established with the Riksdag during the negotiation process. By and large the proposal presented by the Convention for the division of power between the EU institutions is a good one. Unanimity should continue to apply to decisions related to fiscal and defence policies and to major sections of foreign policy. Sweden will continue to work towards a transparent, democratic Union which combines a common decision-making process with voluntary intergovernmental cooperation."

The Parliament has no specific documents on this.

The Swedish government published its view on the draft Treaty in a 89 page document presented to the Swedish parliament on 2 October. Overall, the Swedish government is satisfied that the draft Treaty represents a good basis for a new treaty, it would make the Union more 'effectiveness, democratic and open'. The most significant points of the document are:

-The Swedish government suggests removing the general passerelle clause as having one would, in their view, undermine parliamentary democracy in Member States.

-The Swedish government is not in favour of a special legislative council.

-While the Swedish government is generally supportive of the proposed extensions of QMV, it would not want to see QMV on tax issues.

-The Swedish government would like to introduce QMV decision making on asylum and immigration issues (which is not proposed by the draft Treaty).

-The Swedish government is generally supportive of the proposed President of the European Council and Union Minister for Foreign Affairs but maintain that the positions need to defined more carefully.

-The Swedish government will not support the proposals for enhanced military co-operation between a small group of member states or including a mutual defence clause for this group.

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