In this article, José Luis da Cruz Vilaça, President of the Court of First Instance from 1989 to 1995, supports the idea that the European Union, in constitutionalising its Treaties, has gradually established a constitution, of which the Court of Justice has identified the main aspects. Nevertheless, the process of constitutionalisation will remain incomplete so long as the Member States alone retain the power to adopt a constitution.
Ministre britannique des Finances de 1979 à 1983 et des Affaires étrangères de 1983 à 1989, Geoffrey Howe expose dans cet article des arguments contraires à l’idée que les traités fondateurs de l’Union européenne puissent être considérés comme une constitution, sans pour autant s’opposer à leur réécriture dans le but de les simplifier et de les rationnaliser.
Dans une contribution à l'ouvrage La Constitution de l'Europe, édité en 2002 par l'Université Libre de Bruxelles, le professeur Jean-Victor Louis analyse l'apport du Parlement européen à la constitutionnalisation des traités instituant les Communautés européennes et l'Union européenne.
In an article published in 2003 in the European Integration online Papers (EIoP), Heinrich Schneider, Emeritus Professor of Political Science at the University of Vienna, analyses the various stages of European constitutional policy.
On the eve of the vote in Strasbourg, on 12 January 2005, on the Corbett/Méndez de Vigo report on the Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe, the European Parliament Press Service presents a historical review of the institution’s constitutional ambitions.
In this contribution, Jean-Paul Jacqué, Professor at the College of Europe in Bruges and Director of the Legal Service of the Council of the European Union, argues in favour of the constitutional nature of the text drawn up by the European Convention, in particular by dissociating the concepts of constitution and State and the concepts of State and federation.
In June 1948, François de Menthon, Chairman of the Legal Affairs Committee of the European Parliamentary Union (EPU), which has the task of drawing up a ‘Constitution for the United States of Europe', submits the final text of a Draft European Constitution to Richard Coudenhove-Kalergi, Secretary-General of the EPU.
On 14 February 1984, by a very large majority (237 votes to 31, with 43 abstentions), the European Parliament adopts the draft Treaty establishing the European Union, also known as the ‘Spinelli draft’, named after the Chairman of the Committee on Institutional Affairs which was responsible for the drawing up of the draft Treaty.
By this Resolution of 11 July 1990, the European Parliament decides to draw up a draft constitution for the European Union on the basis of the main points of the Spinelli draft treaty of 14 February 1984 and in accordance with guidelines laid down by Parliament to take account of the experience of the Single European Act.
In its resolution of 10 February 1994, the European Parliament ‘notes with satisfaction’ the work of the Committee on Institutional Affairs which has resulted in a draft Constitution for the European Union, as submitted by its rapporteur, Fernand Herman, and annexes the draft to the resolution so that it may be as widely disseminated as possible.
On 3 and 4 June 1999, the Cologne European Council emphasises the need to draw up a Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union and proposes that, once solemnly proclaimed, it could then be incorporated into the Treaties.
On 15 and 16 October 1999, the Tampere European Council, following up the Cologne conclusions, clarifies the composition, working method and the practical arrangements for the body to draw up a draft EU Charter of Fundamental Rights.
In an independent report on the institutional implications of enlargement submitted to the European Commission on 18 October 1999, Richard von Weizsäcker, Jean-Luc Dehaene and David Simon propose a comprehensive reform of the institutional system of the European Union on the basis of a reorganisation of the Treaties.
In an address given in the Bundestag on 27 June 2000 in Berlin, Jacques Chirac, French President, announces the start of a transitional phase towards an institutional recasting of the European Union. Chirac proposes that an initial consideration seeking the restructuring of the treaties, open to all, might pave the way for the first European Constitution. The French President also suggests the setting up of a ‘pioneer group’ of countries which, together with Germany and France, would take part in all forms of enhanced cooperation.
In a speech delivered on 12 May 2000 at the Humboldt University in Berlin, Joschka Fischer, German Foreign Minister, speaks in a private capacity in the debate on the future of the European Union. He proposes that a constitutional treaty be concluded which establishes a European Federation based on the principle of subsidiarity.
In a speech delivered in Warsaw on 6 October 2000, the British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, upholds the vision of a European Union which, while retaining its unique intergovernmental and supranational structure, will become a superpower comprising equal partner Nation States but not a superstate. In his opinion, in place of a European Constitution, it would be preferable to draw up a statement of principles, serving as a charter of competences, which would be a political, not a legal document.
In a resolution of 25 October 2000, the European Parliament Proposes that the constitutional process be initiated at the Nice European Council in December 2000 with the adoption of a declaration annexed to the next Treaty, laying down a mandate, procedures and a timetable for the commencement of the drafting of a Constitution for Europe.
In a speech delivered in March 2001, Jacques Delors, without wishing to give his views on the ‘lurid presentation’ of the outcome of the major debate currently being conducted about the future of the European Union (e.g. European Constitution, recasting of the treaties), proposes the establishment of an open vanguard of countries, with its own institutions, in the form of a Federation of Nation States.
In a speech delivered in Paris on 28 May 2001, Lionel Jospin, French Prime Minister, expresses support for the vision of the European Union as a ‘Federation of Nation States’ and for a proposed European Constitution, the drafting of which would be entrusted to a Convention, following the method used to draw up the Charter of Fundamental Rights.
In its resolution of 29 November 2001 on the constitutional process and the future of the Union, the European Parliament ‘considers that the aim of the 2003 Intergovernmental Conference must be a Constitution for the European Union’.
One year after the Intergovernmental Conference held in Nice in December 2000 which launched the ‘Debate on the future of the European Union', the Laeken Declaration of 15 December 2001 redrafts and gives tangible form to the issues raised in Nice regarding a reform of the institutions. Accordingly, the Declaration sets out the key issues to be discussed at a Convention on the Future of Europe, whose inaugural session is to take place in Brussels on 28 February 2002: the division of competences between the Union and its Member States, the simplification of the Union's legislative instruments, the maintenance of interinstitutional balance and an improvement to the efficacy of the decision-making procedure, and the constitutionalisation of the Treaties.
On 3 March 2002, with the work of the European Convention having barely begun, the Spanish daily newspaper El País summarises the challenges posed by what promises to be a long and difficult EU reform process.
Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, President of the European Convention, places his Chinese porcelain tortoise on the Presidency table. For the President, this mascot with a dragon’s head, a symbol of longevity, represents a prudent strategy which achieves its aim. Like the Convention, the dragon tortoise advances slowly so that, when the moment comes, it can catch the final text in its claws.
Photograph of the Presidential podium at the European Convention taken during the plenary session debate on institutional questions from 20 to 21 January 2003. From left to right: Jean-Luc Dehaene (Vice-Chairman), Giuliano Amato (Vice-Chairman) and Valéry Giscard d'Estaing (Chairman).
Alojz Peterle, Slovene representative to the Praesidium of the European Convention. Chosen by the members of the parliaments of the accession countries, he attends the Praesidium meetings with guest status.
Interview with the President of the European Convention, Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, published in the French daily newspaper Le Figaro in January 2003. During the interview, Mr Giscard d’Estaing explains the role and operation of the EU institutions, and talks about the European Convention debates surrounding their reform.
Paru dans le quotidien français Le Monde le 6 juin 2003, l'article relate les efforts de Valéry Giscard d'Estaing, président de la Convention européenne, pour rassembler autour d'un projet de compromis les différentes composantes de cette instance – parlementaires nationaux, représentants des gouvernements, députés européens et membres de la Commission.
During the plenary session of the European Convention on 13 June 2003, members of the Praesidium raise a toast to celebrate the presentation of the amendments made to Part I of the draft Constitution for Europe. From left to right: Jean-Luc Dehaene, Vice-Chairman, Giuliano Amato, Vice-Chairman, and Valéry Giscard d'Estaing, Chairman.
Suite à la présentation, le 13 juin 2003, du projet de Constitution élaboré par la Convention européenne, le quotidien français Le Monde témoigne de l'optimisme des conventionnels, qui voient dans le compromis atteint le fondement du texte définitif à préparer par la Conférence intergouvernementale.
On 19 and 20 June 2003, Valéry Giscard d’Estaing submits the draft Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe, drawn up by the European Convention, to the Thessaloniki European Council. The final version of the text will be approved on 10 July and forwarded to the President-in-Office of the European Council in Rome on 18 July 2003.
The Rome Declaration, issued on 18 July 2003 by the Chairman of the European Convention, Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, to mark the handing-over of the full draft Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe to the Italian Presidency of the European Council.
Opinion of the European Commission delivered on 17 September 2003 following adoption by the European Convention on 13 June and 10 July 2003 of the draft Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe. The Commission considers that the draft should provide the basis for the work of the Intergovernmental Conference (IGC), taking the view that the IGC's task should consist of improving, clarifying and finalising the draft Constitution.
In this interview, Jacques Santer, former Luxembourg Prime Minister and former President of the European Commission, recalls the reasons that led the Twelve to establish, in December 2001, the European Convention, in which he took part from February 2002 to June 2003 in his capacity as Personal Representative of the Luxembourg Prime Minister, Jean-Claude Juncker.
In this interview, António Vitorino, representative of the Commission to the European Convention from 2002 to 2003 who participated in the work of the Intergovernmental Conference (IGC) as Commission representative from 2003 to 2004, comments on the highlights of the Convention: the dynamic of debate resulting from its composition and its members’ determination to reach agreement.
In this interview, António Vitorino, representative of the Commission to the European Convention from 2002 to 2003 who participated in the work of the Intergovernmental Conference (IGC) as Commission representative from 2003 to 2004, emphasises the originality of the Convention’s method which was based, in particular, on the diversity of its composition and the openness and transparency of the debates.
Schedule for the meetings of the Conference of the representatives of the Governments of the Member States (Intergovernmental Conference - IGC) which started work on 4 October 2003, culminating on 18 June 2004 with the adoption of the draft Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe.
At their meeting in Rome on 4 October 2004, on the occasion of the opening of the Intergovernmental Conference (IGC) to revise the Treaties, the Heads of State and of Government of Member Countries, of acceding countries and candidates to the European Union, the President of the European Parliament, the President of the European Commission, confirm the importance of the commitment to endow the European Union with a constitutional text and take up the Convention's Draft Treaty as a good basis for starting in the IGC.
Press conference held on 4 October 2003 in Rome, in the Palazzo dei Congressi, by Pat Cox (left), President of the European Parliament, Silvio Berlusconi (centre), President-in-Office of the European Council, and Romano Prodi, President of the European Commission, to mark the opening of the Intergovernmental Conference aimed at adopting the Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe.
Fearing the consequences of a failure by the Intergovernmental Conference (IGC) to finalise the constitutional negotiations, the former Parliamentary members of the European Convention meet in Brussels on 5 December 2003 in order to call on the IGC to adhere the Convention’s package deal and to finish its work at the European Council in Brussels on 12 and 13 December 2003.
The Brussels European Council, held under the Italian Presidency on 12 and 13 December 2003, notes that it has not yet been possible for the Intergovernmental Conference (IGC) to reach overall agreement on a draft constitutional treaty and calls on the Irish Presidency, by way of a consultation process, to undertake an assessment of the prospects for progress.
On 18 June 2004, at an Intergovernmental Conference (IGC) that had commenced on 4 October 2003, the Heads of State or Government of the 25 Member States of the European Union reach agreement on a new Constitutional Treaty for Europe.