The Future of the Constitutional Treaty

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Publication Series Europe, Volume 2

The Future of the Constitutional Treaty

January 3, 2008
By Michaele Schreyer

Positions and Proposals of the Greens and Other European Political Actors

Diese Studie ist auch auf Deutsch erhältlich.

By Michaele Schreyer


The European Union urgently needs new impetus. The European Constitutional Treaty – which carried so many hopes, maybe too many hopes – is at a standstill after its rejection in France and the Netherlands. At the same time “enlargement-fatigue,” which has been spreading through the Member States since the major round of accessions in 2004, is spilling over into the parliaments and governments. Accession negotiations with Turkey have ground to a halt. In this critical phase it is clear that no sustainable consensus exists between the States and peoples of Europe as to where the EU journey should lead: What form should the future division of power between the European institutions and the Member States take? Where should the external borders of the European Union be situated in the future? How can the political, social, and cultural diversity of Europe be harmonized with the common capacity to act? And how can we prevent the transfer of further competences to “Brussels” from also reducing the democratic influence of the citizens?

Key questions on the future of the European Union converge in the debate surrounding the Constitutional Treaty. This is due to the fact that this document portrays itself as no less than the first comprehensive description of the fundamental values, objectives, functionality, and policies of the Union. Previous Treaty law is summarized and developed in the direction of stronger integration, that is, the strengthening of the political union. This direction does not suit all governments and is not undisputed among the populations. Reform of the decision-making procedure is necessary to ensure the capacity for action of an alliance of 27 and more States. Consolidation of the European Parliament is, in turn, necessary to maintain the separation of powers at the European level. But these measures alone are not enough to generate a new enthusiasm for Europe and give fresh impetus to the European ideal. There is a lack of European projects and initiatives with which the general public can identify.

If it is the case that the Constitutional Treaty cannot enter into force in its original form, new directions must be taken. But “Return to Go” would not be advisable here. The starting point for revitalization of the constitutional process must be the current document, which, after all, has already been ratified by 18 States. How can the European advancement formulated in the Constitutional Treaty be maintained while engendering a new political legitimation? This is the question at the core of this study, written by the former EU Commissioner Michaele Schreyer on behalf of the Heinrich Böll Foundation.

After a short review of the genesis of the Constitutional Treaty and its key elements, the study sets out a diversity of political proposals for further dealings concerning the document and discusses their pros and cons. At the end the author makes three recommendations for action: Firstly, a division of the current body of work into a Constitutional Treaty, in the stricter sense of the term, and an “Implementation Treaty” containing the provisions for the concrete policy areas in which the EU is active. Secondly, a proposal that the constitutional document be supplemented with two voluntary agreements on key political challenges which are the focus of European public attention: establishing cross-border social minimum standards, and a European pact for a sustainable energy policy based on a European internal market for renewable energy. Thirdly, a “confirming referendum”, which would add democratic legitimation to the new Treaty, is given a positive assessment.

The history of the European Union – starting from the European Community for Coal and Steel through to the European Economic Community, the introduction of the internal market, the Maastricht Treaty establishing the political union, and up to the recent major enlargement – has passed through many phases of crisis and stagnation. Most recently it was the growth crisis, from which the European project emerged in a stronger position. We are counting on the same happening this time. Europe must have the capacity for both external and internal action to cope with the challenges of a rapidly changing world. But to turn the present crisis into an opportunity, we need thinkers and actors with strategic vision and European interests at heart. A major responsibility falls to the German federal government, which holds the current EU Presidency. With this study we hope to present possible courses of action as to how the European project can be brought back on track and how the Constitutional Treaty can be brought to its destination. Our thanks go to Michaele Schreyer, who with her talent for lucid analysis and her practical political experience seems predestined to present this debate.

Berlin, February 1, 2007
Ralf Fücks, Member of the Board of the Heinrich Böll Foundation

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. The constitution for Europe as the new treaty on which the European Union is founded
  3. The Greens as actors in the constitutional process
  4. The way forward for the Constitutional Treaty
    1. Abandoning the constitutional project – Nice plus constitutionalization
    2. Ways for realization of the Constitutional Treaty
    3. A new convention or just an intergovernmental conference?
  5. Conclusions and political recommendations

Positions and proposals of the Greens and other European political actors -
The Future of the Constitutional Treaty
Editor Heinrich Böll Foundation
Place of publication Berlin
Date of publication January 2008
Pages 41
Service charge Free of charge

Product details
Date of Publication
January 3, 2008
Heinrich Böll Foundation
Number of Pages
All rights reserved
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