Just how ‘significant’ is Giscard’s draft Constitutional
Treaty? - Part I
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
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:
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.
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).
The Union shall have legal personality
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.
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
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
The Union shall have exclusive competence to establish
competition rules within the internal market, and in the following areas:
policy for the Member States, which have adopted the euro-common commercial
conservation of marine biological resources under the common fisheries policy.
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.
competence applies in the following principal areas:
of freedom. Security and justice
and fisheries, excluding the conservation of marine biological resources.
and trans-European networks.
policy. For aspects defined in Part Three [this deals with General and Final
and social cohesion.
safety concerns in public health.