He does not see that the existing EU Constitution will come into force and does not believe in a second referendum in France. "I will not be the one who says to the French, that they have misunderstood the question that was posed to them." Further he instructed the German Chancellor Angela Merkel: "The treaty can only come into force if all 25 member states have ratified it." In January, Merkel has proposed to add a non-binding social charta and continue the ratification.
The proposed procedure contains three steps:
1. Implement parts of the Constitution (cherry picking)
2. Agree on a "treaty for an improved EU" (Constitution "light")
3. Establish a broad debate for the future of Europe (New convention)
1. Cherry picking
Undisputed parts of the EU Constitution should be implemented immediately. This approach is often described as cherry picking.
The elements mentioned in the speech are: the European Citizens’ Initiative, the improved transparency of the European Council meetings and the introduction of the qualified majority voting in the policy field "criminal law". The first two elements are a positive but insufficient approach towards a more democratic EU. At least the qualified majority voting shows the difficulties of the proposed cherry picking: It is questionable that this element is undisputed.
2. Constitution "light"
The next revision of the treaty should contain 10-15 articles and implement some important changes of the EU Constitution.
The introduction of the double majority in the European Council, the implementation of the post of the EU president and the EU "foreign minister" are mentioned. Furthermore, the co-decision procedure shall become the general decision-making rule for EU legislation. Also the so-called early warning system (designed to involve national parliaments in European decision making) shall be invented.
3. New convention
To stimulate a broad debate on the EU Constitution he suggests establishing a new Convention on the Future of Europe. According to him the members could be appointed by national parliaments. This convention should start its work after the next elections for the European Parliament in 2009. The debate should find answers on questions like: Where are the boarders of the European Union? How should the EU be financed?
Sarkozy also made some remarks on the further enlargement: In 2005 France introduced the compulsory referendum on EU accession. Hence the accession of Turkey has to be approved directly by the French people.
You can download the speech in French and German on the homepage of the French embassy.
Sarkozy - A supporter of Democracy International?
The French "no" to the EU Constitution has posed important questions concerning the future of Europe.
The quick introduction of the European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) is one answer. The Europeans must have a say in European politics. Therefore the ECI should be introduced as soon as possible.
It is not possible to revive the EU Constitution. Sarkozy regrets saying this. But it is not possible to ratify the treaty without France. And no French politician will dare to call a second referendum on this issue.
Therefore, a new approach must be found. Only a new, more democratic convention can develop a new shape of the European Union. To conclude: Sarkozy mentions two proposals to tackle the current crisis which we also promote. Their necessity is obvious.
The French minister presents more far-reaching ideas. He suggests picking more cherries and establishing parts of the constitution in a revision of the treaty. These have to be evaluated very carefully.
The future of the European Union can no longer be negotiated and decided behind closed doors.
Text by Ronald Pabst
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Foreign representative of the Union
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