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Just how ‘significant’ is Giscard’s draft Constitutional Treaty? - Part I


Much controversy over a Constitution for Europe has centred on Government claims that what is being proposed is not sufficiently ‘significant’ to warrant a plebiscite.  From the outset Giscard d’Estaing, the chairman of the Convention on the Future of the European Union, has evidently taken a different view.  In a speech to the College of Europe in Bruges on 2nd October 2002 he said that the decision taken at Laeken to convene the Convention recognised that”…the Union has reached a major turning-point in its history, and that it must rethink, readjust and- in part - reinvent the system. And propose a New Europe.”


Perhaps not surprisingly most members of the Convention- europhiles and eurosceptics alike – wold seem to share his view about the importance of what is being proposed: by the end of May more than 90 out of 105 of them had signed a demand for referendums to be held in all EU-member states.


In order to allow readers to judge for themselves the significance of the draft, we publish below these parts of which most certainly strike us as ‘significant’, even if some of the provisions have their origins in earlier treaties. We do not suggest that our summary is comprehensive.  The battle over the fine print continues but the passages from Part One, which appear below, take account of the revisions included in the text of 28th May, but not those to Part Two, which had not been published by the time we went to Press (bolding has been added).




Part One


Article 6


The Union shall have legal personality


Article 7


The Union shall recognise the rights, freedoms and principles set out in the Charter of Fundamental Rights, which constitutes the second Part of the Treaty.



Article 10


The Constitution, and law adopted by the Union’s Institutions in exercising competences conferred on it, shall have primacy over the law of the member states.



Member States shall take all appropriate measures, general or particular, to ensure fulfilment of the obligations flowing from the Constitution or resulting from the Union Institutions’ acts.



Article 11


When the Constitution confers on the Union a competence shared with the Member States in a specific area, the Union and the Member State shall have power to legislate and adopt legally binding acts in that area. The Member States shall exercise their competence to the extent that the Union has not exercised, or has decided to cease exercising, its competence



The Union shall have competence to co-ordinate the economic and employment policies of the Member States


The Union shall have competence to define and implement a common foreign security policy, including the progressive framing of a common defence policy.



Article 12


The Union shall have exclusive competence to establish competition rules within the internal market, and in the following areas:


-        Monetary policy for the Member States, which have adopted the euro-common commercial policy-customs union.

-        The conservation of marine biological resources under the common fisheries policy.

-        The Union shall have exclusive competence for the conclusion of an international agreement when its conclusion is provided for in a legislative act of the Union to exercise its competence internally, or affects an internal Union act.




-        Shared competence applies in the following principal areas:


-        Internal market


-        Area of freedom. Security and justice


-        Agriculture and fisheries, excluding the conservation of marine biological resources.


-        Transport and trans-European networks.


-        Energy


-        Social policy. For aspects defined in Part Three [this deals with General and Final Provisions]


-        Economic and social cohesion.


-        Environment


-        Consumer protection


-        Common safety concerns in public health.