Duff MEP, Lib-Dem East of England; ALDE (Alliance for Liberals and Democrats for
Europe) spokesman in the EP on constitutional affairs
Andrew Duff talked through the five principles set out in his B-Plan
How to rescue the European Constitution, published earlier in the
week in the federalist Notre Europe (www.andrewduffmep.org.uk).
The proposals listed five key areas of substance that are now required for the
constitutional reform of the enlarged EU.
economic governance of the EU should be strengthened, specifically in relation to the
autonomy of the eurozone. The economic goals of the Lisbon agenda should be written into
the new constitution.
common architecture of an EU social model should be defined; those wishing to go further
should then commit themselves through a protocol on a social union.
climate change should become an imperative to which all common policies should conform,
especially agriculture (which should be modernised and separated from fisheries), energy
and transport. In this connection environmental and energy policies should be revised and
issue of the Unions borders should be clarified, not least for the benefit of its
citizens, concerned over the process of enlargement mistakenly seen as uncontrolled. The
Copenhagen criteria (on enlargement) should be spelled out in the constitution, together
with a clarification of the EUs neighbourhood policy.
outcomes of the financial review to be presented to the EC in 2008 will be timely enough
for incorporation into the constitution. In addition to simplifying the current
complexities, reforms need to address the key issues of : revenue,
which should be seen as fair and transparent; the adequacy of funds for meeting current
political priorities; and the resolution of the ECs long-standing financial
There would be an IGC in 2008 for the signature of whatever agreements are made on
constitutional arrangements. A likely outcome might be a series of agreements between the
EC and EP, with a conciliation mechanism. A solution for the referendum issue in the UK
might be a consultative ballot.
David MP, Labour Caerphilly; member of the European Scrutiny Select Committee at
Wayne David was concerned primarily with the political dimension, and stressed the
necessity for the democratic legitimacy of the EUs new constitutional arrangements.
He was concerned that as the reflection period drew to an end there was still little
evidence of European elites responding to the aspirations of ordinary citizens. He
criticised the British government for having contributed little to the reflection debate,
beyond reminding the French of their responsibilities towards realigning their own public
In his view the British government should now:
public concerns over the long-term enlargement of the Union
to building on existing agreements in treaties already in place for the Unions new
for implementing non-controversial proposals Union Foreign Minister; longer
Presidency period; greater role for national parliaments; extension of QMV
There was no inevitability in the EUs continuation, hence it was imperative to
create a Europe that met common aspirations, which were often to be realised through
comparatively minor issues. Bottom up rather than top down. He was opposed to a
flexible constitution that allowed member states opt-outs of key commitments,
or any form of associate membership for committed member states.
Siebert, Political Section of the German Embassy
Michael Siebert addressed the process of achieving agreement as it related to the
responsibilities of his country in the first Presidency of 2007. There was now a sense in
mainland Europe that the constitutional issue should be moved on; except in eurosceptic
Britain. Germanys objective was to reach the original goals of the constitutional
treaty by retrieving its substance. This would be the start of preparations for the new EC
in 2009. Specific responsibilities for Germany included:
to Bulgaria and Romania on their accession
of the foreign policy conference in March; Iran on the agenda?
in Berlin on 25 March a formal EU50 gathering; an opportunity to raise consciousness among
EU citizens of the Unions achievements. There would to this end be a Berlin
to terms with the result of the French Presidential elections; the outcome could be the
key to resolving the Unions constitutional crisis. A road map on constitutional
issues would be set out for the end-of- Presidency conference in June. The content of this
was as yet a mystery even for the Germans; the starting point must still be the text of
the constitutional treaty though compromises would be required. He noted that by 1 January
2007 eighteen of the 27 member states would have ratified the proposals.
What should the UK do ?
Revive the debate on the treaty the UK has often underestimated the will of
other member states to bind themselves together, eg Schengen, the euro. If no compromise
is reached there is the danger of a two-speed Europe. Remember Ortega y Gasset: "Europe
is not the problem, Europe is the solution".