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Thursday, March 23, 2017
Date Posted:
12/13/2003


A New Constitution For Europe Examined & Explained By Northern Ireland’s First Elected MEP Dr Ian R K Paisley


PART ONE
Dr. Ian R. K. Paisley

AN INTRODUCTION BY DR I R K PAISLEY MP MEP MLA

Presently there are under way proposals for a New European Constitution.

These proposals, if agreed, will create a Constitution which will govern our lives as part of an enlarged and ever more powerful European Union.  They will surpass our own British Constitution and will become the Constitution under which our children will live.

Such is their importance that I urge you to read this plain and straightforward explanation of what is proposed.

To date, the British Government has not agreed to hold a referendum on these vast changes.  I believe when you understand the extent of what is proposed you will want the opportunity to express your opinion by referendum.

In the short time that it takes you to read this booklet you will have a clear understanding of what is imminent and I trust be compelled to do what you can to ensure that you have a say in your own future in Europe.

A NEW CONSTITUTION FOR AN ENLARGED EUROPE

European Convention on the future of the European Union

Momentous changes are in prospect as to the way we are to be ruled.

Much of what is being proposed is counter to our vital interests.

Our government does not have a mandate to agree such sweeping developments which will change forever the future of the United Kingdom.

The need for a referendum on the proposed constitution cannot be overstated.

The new constitution for Europe will replace the democratic system, which has been built up over centuries in our nation and elsewhere.

To permit and accept such radical changes without the nation having opportunity to voice its opinion by way of referendum is nothing less than a betrayal of democracy and a misuse of constitutional powers.  These belong to the people, not to the present government or any other government!

In May 2004, ten new Member States will join the European Union.

The new enlarged Europe will encompass over 450 million people.  In advance of enlargement all 25-member states are meeting in an Inter-governmental Conference (IGC) to complete what will be the New Constitution for Europe.  This Constitutional Treaty will replace all previous treaties from Rome to Nice.

The basis for negotiations at the IGC is the text already agreed and proposed by the Convention on the Future of Europe.  This text has its foundation in all previous treaties but has also within it important modifications and new proposals.

THE PROMISE IS OF A MORE EFFECTIVE UNION

The New Constitution will:-

  1. Replace THE THREE PILLAR STRUCTURE of the European Union with a single treaty.

    Give Europe a legal personality – there will be no separation of power between the executive legislative and judicial functions.  These will all overlap.

  2. Create a President of Europe – the Chair of THE EUROPEAN COUNCIL

    Create a minister for Foreign Affairs – who will sit on the Commission but be answerable to the Council of Ministers.

  3. Change the make-up of THE COMMISSION from 20 Commissioners to 15 Commissioners with full voting rights and a further 15 associate Commissioners without full voting rights.

  4. Include THE CHARTER OF FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS (part 2 of the Treaty)

    Give a scrutiny role to National Parliaments.  National Parliaments will be able to see Commission proposals at an earlier stage than is now possible.  They will be able to comment on them and the Commission must justify their proposals but are not obliged to actually alter them!

  5. Change the basis of QUALIFIED MAJORITY VOTING (QMV)

    Include an Exit Clause for members wishing to leave the Union.  This includes a proposal that without a two-thirds majority it would be impossible for a member state to secede from the EU.

    It will, in fact be a ‘duty of loyalty’ to the EU and will surpass national law.

1. THE THREE PILLARS

The European Union was created by the Treaty of Maastrict in 1992 (also called the Treaty on European Union)

Its Three Pillars are

THE FIRST PILLAR - the pre-existing European Community (EEC) which covers, though no exclusively, Economic business.

THE SECOND PILLAR - Common Foreign and Security policy.

THE THIRD PILLAR - Certain police and judicial co-operation in criminal matters (as amended by the Treaty Amsterdam, 1997)

2. THE EUROPEAN COUNCIL A summit of Heads of State or Government which has met regularly since 1970’s

It now meets 4 times a year. These meetings are often referred to as European Summits. Its task is to provide the EU with impetus for its development and with general political guidelines for its work.

The summit will agree Conclusions.  Conclusions are political agreements reached at the end of European Council Meetings and are produced on the authority of the Presidency only.

The Presidency is in effect the chairmanship of the European Union.  To date it rotates every 6 months among the member states.  However, under the new constitution a President will be created who will be the Chair of the European Council, rather than a rotation of the role by member states.

THE PRESIDENT WILL REPRESENT THE EU ON THE WORLD STAGE.  HE OR SHE WILL BE THE FACE OF THE EU – IN EFFECT, THE HEAD OF STATE OF THE NEW EUROPE.

3. THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION

Presently the Commission is made up of 20 Commissioners (Two from UK, France, Germany, Italy, Spain/One from each of the other member states).

It is central to the EU’s decision-making process.

It ensures the correct application of any Treaty.

It proposes new legislation to the European Council and the European Parliament.

It meets in secret.

It is a non-elected body.

Its present President is Romano Prodi, former Prime Minister of Italy.

Under the New Constitution proposals its membership will become thirty, fifteen of which will be Commissioners with full voting rights and fifteen associate commissioners who will not have voting rights, but who will work on policy teams.  It will be in place by 2009.

4. THE CHARTER OF FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS

This Charter sets out the fundamental rights applicable at EU level.  It was drawn up by a convention in 2000 and adopted at the Nice European Council or Summit, December 2000.  It forms part 2 of the New Constitution.

It should be noted that the charter of Fundamental Rights is not the same as the terms of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms to which the EU is already committed.  The New Constitution will give the charter legal status.

ITS HISTORY –

JUNE 1999, COLOGNE COUNCIL - agreement that rights applicable at EU level should be clearly defined.

OCTOBER 1999, TAMPERE COUNCIL - Agreement on convention to draw up charter

JANUARY 2000 - Commencement of draft for charter chaired by Roman Herzay (ex-President of German)

DECEMBER 2000, NICE COUNCIL - Charter agreed as a political declaration

DECEMBER 2001, LAEKEN COUNCIL Charter’s legal status and the EU accession to the European Charter of Human Rights agreed for debate.

2002 - Convention on the Future of Europe working group established on Charter.

2003 - Convention on the Future of Europe proposes insertion of Charter (now amended) into draft of New Constitutional Treaty with legal status.

This new charter has previously not received any support from the UK government and has its own Preamble.  It is to be “interpreted by the Courts of the Union and the Member States with due regard for the explanations prepared at the instigation of the Presidium * of the Convention which drafted the Charter”

* The Presidium was the steering group for the Convention on the Future of Europe led by Valéry Giscard d’Estaing it had 12 members including government delegates and representatives from the Accession states)

4. Qualified Majority Voting

This is the system of voting used by the Council to enable a proposal to be adopted without every Member State agreeing to it.  Under this system Member States, depending on their size, are allocated a certain number of votes.  Out of a total of 345 votes, 258 votes are required to pass legislation by a “qualified majority”.  88 votes are required to block legislation. For an act to be passed over half of the member states must vote in favour, and that must represent at least 62% of the population of the EU. The New Constitution will change this system, which was the product of the Nice Council.  It now proposes a “dual majority” voting system, basing member States’ voting rights on population size.  Half the member states would have to support an act and that half would represent 60% of the EU population! Greater use of the majority voting system is also proposed including a clause which would permit the Council to vote by unanimity to move any Treaty article to the system.

THIS WOULD UNDERMINE EVEN FURTHER THE ROLE OF NATIONAL PARLIAMENTS IN TREATY CHANGE.  IN EFFECT, NATION PARLIAMENTS WOULD HAVE NO SAY.

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