Select Committee on European Union Eighteenth Report


1.  This is our fourth[2] Report on the draft Treaty Articles now being discussed in the Convention on the Future of Europe.[3] It deals with two groups of Articles: (a) those concerning Membership of the Union, and (b) certain General and Final Provisions. The former comprise four Articles to be contained in Part One (Constitutional Structure) of the draft Constitutional Treaty:

—Article 43: Criteria to be eligible for Union membership

—Article 44: Procedure to apply for Union membership

—Article 45: Suspension of Union membership rights

—Article 46: Withdrawal from the Union

Of these only Article 46 is completely new.

2.  The second group of Articles, as yet unnumbered, would be included in the Third Part of the new Treaty. They deal with the following matters:

—Repeal of earlier Treaties (Article A)

—Legal Continuity in relation to the European Community and the European Union (Article B)

—Scope (Article C)

—Regional unions (Article D)

—Protocols (Article E)

—Procedure for revising the Constitutional Treaty (Article F)

—Adoption, ratification and entry into force of the Constitutional Treaty (Article G)

—Duration (Article H)

—Languages (Article I)

3.  The text of the new Constitutional Treaty is appearing in stages and there remain some substantial gaps.[4] It is somewhat unusual for General and Final clauses to be considered so early in the process of preparing a Treaty. They are usually taken at the end of the substantive negotiations and are often considered as being "lawyers' law". Typically they address technical treaty law matters such as entry into force, territorial scope, conditions of participation, ratification[5], deposit[6] and duration. As will be explained in Part 3 of this Report a number of these draft provisions raise points of some political and/or practical concern. The fundamental nature of the change which the new Treaty would bring about requires greater attention than usual to be focussed on these technical clauses. This Report highlights some of the potential problems.

4.  The format of this Report follows that of our earlier Reports in this series. Each Article is followed by an Explanatory note[7] (the text of which has been prepared by the Convention Secretariat) and a Commentary added by the Committee.

5.  We make this Report to the House for information.

2   For our earlier Reports in this series see, The Future of Europe: Constitutional Treaty-Draft Articles 1-16 (9th Report, Session 2002-03, HL Paper 61), The Future of Europe: Constitutional Treaty-Draft Articles 24-33 (12th Report, Session 2002-03, HL Paper 71) and The Future of Europe: Constitutional Treaty-Draft Article 31 and Draft Articles from Part 2 (Freedom, Security and Justice) (16th Report, Session 2002-03, HL Paper 81). Back

3   See Appendix 1 for membership of the European Union Committee. Back

4   For example we have yet to see the group of Articles dealing with the Institutions. Back

5   ie the international procedure bringing a treaty into force by exchange or deposit of the instruments of ratification. Not to be confused with ratification in the domestic sense, ie the act of the appropriate organ of State, that is the Crown in the UK. See Brownlie, Principles of Public International Law (5th Edition) at 611. Back

6   The written instruments evidencing ratification, reservations, declarations etc are placed in the custody of a depository who is normally a State of an international organisation. See Brownlie op cit at p 616-7. Back

7   The Convention document uses the term "Comments". Back

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