Select Committee on European Union Forty-First Report



The Government welcomes the Committee's contribution and notes the amendments that were presented to the Convention by the Right Honourable Peter Hain MP, as the UK Government Representative to the Convention.

In the Praesidium's re-drafted Constitutional Treaty, presented to the Convention on 26 and 27 May, these Articles now feature as Articles 57-59 of Part I, Title IX: Union Membership; and Articles 1-9 of Part IV: General and Final Provisions. The Government is broadly content with these draft Articles.


Article 43: Criteria to be eligible for Union membership

This draft Article is now Article 57, which has been re-named "Conditions and procedure for applying for Union membership" and merged with Article 44. It now reads:

1.  The Union shall be open to all the European States which respect the values referred to in Article 2, and are committed to promoting them together.

2.  Any European State which wishes to become a member of the Union may address its application to the Council. The European Parliament and the Member States' national Parliaments shall be notified of this application. The Council shall act unanimously after consulting the Commission and after obtaining the consent of the European Parliament. The conditions and arrangements for admission shall be the subject of an agreement between the Member States and the candidate State. That agreement shall be subject to ratification by all the contracting States, in accordance with their respective constitutional requirements.

The Government proposed that it be made clear that it is the States themselves, rather than the people, that must demonstrate respect for and commitment to promoting the values of the Union. We welcome the Praesidium's support of this, and its inclusion in the re-drafted Article.

Article 44: Procedure for applying for Union membership

As noted above, this draft Article has now been merged with Article 43.

Article 45: Suspension of Union membership rights

The Government welcomes this draft Article.

Article 46: Voluntary withdrawal from the Union

This is now Article 59. It has been re-drafted to read:

1.  As previously.

2.  A Member State which decides to withdraw shall notify the European Council of its intention; the European Council shall examine that notification. In the light of the guidelines provided by the European Council, the Union shall negotiate and conclude an agreement with that State, setting out the arrangements for its withdrawal, taking account of the framework for its future relationship with the Union. That agreement shall be concluded on behalf of the Union by the Council, acting by a qualified majority, after obtaining the consent of the European Parliament.

The representative of the withdrawing Member State shall not participate in Council or European Council discussions or decisions concerning it.

3.  This Constitution shall cease to apply to the State in question from the date of entry into force of the withdrawal agreement or, failing that, two years after the notification referred to in paragraph 2, unless the European Council, in agreement with the Member State concerned, decides to extend this period.

4.  If a State which has withdrawn from the Union asks to re-join, that request shall be subject to the procedure referred to in Article I-57.

We see value in including a withdrawal procedure in the Constitutional Treaty. Whilst we believe that it would only be drawn on in very exceptional circumstances, it is useful for completeness to have an explicit reference to the process to be followed should a Member State decide to withdraw from the Union.


Article A: Repeal of earlier Treaties

The re-drafted Article proposes that a Protocol be established, listing the acts and treaties which supplement or amend the Treaty establishing the European Community and the Treaty on European Union and which are to be repealed. We believe that producing such a Protocol would be a complex task. Care would need to be taken to ensure that, in drawing up the Protocol, there was no inadvertent repeal of necessary provisions, for instance those setting out the status of the UK's overseas territories.

Article B: Legal continuity in relation to the European Community and the European Union

The Government welcomes this draft Article: we believe there is a need for an Article dealing with legal continuity.

Article C: Scope

The Government has proposed the deletion of the second tiret of Article C(3) and C(6(b)) on the grounds that they are redundant. The latter, which concerns the United Kingdom's sovereign base areas in Cyprus, is dealt with in the Cyprus Accession Treaty.

Paragraph 4 covers Gibraltar which, as the Committee notes, reflects wording on territorial scope at Article 299(4) TEC. The Government has made clear in its commentary on the draft Articles that further work will be required to ensure that Gibraltar's special status is protected.

The Government recognises that this raises a question about the territorial application of TEU measures to Gibraltar. We are currently in discussion with the Government of Gibraltar on this point.

Article D: Regional Unions

The Government is content with this draft Article.

Article E: Protocols

The status and content of the Union's Protocols have not been discussed widely at the Convention. Various important matters are currently dealt with in the Protocols to the Treaties. The Government welcomes the recognition that the existing Protocols and their status are to be maintained under the future Constitutional Treaty

Article F: Procedure for revising the Constitutional Treaty

This draft Article has been revised to read:

1.  The government of any Member State, the European Parliament or the Commission may submit to the Council proposals for the amendment of the Treaty establishing the Constitution. The national Parliaments of the Member States shall be notified of these proposals.

2.  If the European Council, after consulting the European Parliament and the Commission, adopts by a simple majority a decision in favour of examining the proposed amendments, the President of the European Council shall convene a Convention composed of representatives of the national Parliaments of the Member States, of the Heads of State or Government of the Member States, of the European Parliament and of the Commission. The European Central Bank shall also be consulted in the case of institutional changes in the monetary area. The European Council may decide by a simple majority not to convene the Convention should the scope of the amendments not warrant this. In the latter case, the European Council shall define the terms of reference for the conference of representatives of the governments of the Member States.

The Convention shall examine the proposals for amendments and shall adopt by consensus a recommendation to the conference of representatives of the governments of the Member States provided for in paragraph 3.

3.  The conference of representative of the governments of the Member States shall be convened by the President of the Council for the purpose of determining by common accord the amendments to be made to the Treaty establishing the Constitution.

The amendments shall enter into force after being ratified by all the Member States in accordance with their respective constitutional requirements.

The Government welcomes the fact that, as at present, the draft requires representatives of Member States to decide upon proposed Treaty amendments by unanimity at an Intergovernmental conference. We believe that the only feasible option for revising the Constitutional Treaty is for future amendments to enter into force after ratification by all Member States.

Article G: Adoption, ratification and entry into force of the Constitutional Treaty

The Government is content with this draft Article.

Article H: Duration

The Government is content with this draft Article.

Article I: Languages

The Government is also content with this draft Article.

143   Government Response dated 20 June 2003.  Back

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