INTRODUCTION BY DR I R K PAISLEY MP MEP MLA
Presently there are under way proposals
for a New European Constitution.
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
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.
CONSTITUTION FOR AN ENLARGED EUROPE
European Convention on the
future of the European Union
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.
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
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
IS OF A MORE EFFECTIVE UNION.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Include THE CHARTER OF FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS (part 2 of the
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!
- 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
1. THE THREE
Union was created by the Treaty of Maastrict in 1992 (also called the Treaty on
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
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.
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
It is a
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.
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.
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
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.