Nieuws-items bij Europese Raad
09-12-2003Lidstaten: beperk budgetbevoegdheden Europees Parlement (en)
22-10-2003Tony Blair: hartproblemen veroorzaakt door sterke koffie in Brussel
17-10-2003Chirac verdedigt Duitse belangen met verve (en)
17-10-2003Conclusies Europese Raad (Brussel 16/17 oktober)
16-10-2003Onenigheid over bevoegdheden Europese minister van Buitenlandse Zaken (en)
16-10-2003Lidstaten zetten hun hakken in het zand tijdens IGC (en)
16-10-2003Italiaans voorzitterschap komt in november met compromis-Grondwet (en)
16-10-2003Grote controverse over behartiging Duitse belangen door Chirac (en)
16-10-2003Romano Prodi: "Intergovernmental conference assessment" (Press Conference)
15-10-2003Deense reserves over inrichting nieuwe Europese Commissie (en)
15-10-2003Prodi: talent Eurocommissarissen belangrijker dan geografische afkomst
15-10-2003Romano Prodi, Pre-European Council press conference
14-10-2003Chirac vervangt Schröder op Europese Raad (en)
14-10-2003Spanje bereid te onderhandelen over stemmenweging Raad (en)
14-10-2003Europarlementariërs vrezen ontrafeling Conventieresultaat (en)
08-10-2003EP in discussie met Raad over Grondwet-onderhandelingen tijdens Europese Raad 16-17 oktober
The Convention has given birth to a balanced package of institutional proposals and some very important innovations.
- So "all the institutional issues" do not have to be broached. We should concentrate on a few points. As you know, we consider one change essential: the make-up of the Commission. You know this view is shared by many Foreign Ministers. I will come back to this point.
- But there are only a very few points where the draft Constitution needs changing. The Ministers' discussions of 4 and 13 October show that many of these points concern issues that the Constitution does not need to settle. They can be worked out in the secondary legislation or in the various institutions' internal rules.
- I find the Convention's text on the President of the European Council quite clear. The President will chair the European Council and see that it functions properly. The European Council remains a separate institution with a distinct role of its own.
- As the draft Constitution states, the General Affairs Council's role is to coordinate all the Council configurations. The great majority of colleagues have come out in support of this coordinating role. As President of the Commission, I consider this a good solution.
- I also think there is absolutely no need to amend the draft Treaty as regards the presidency of the Council configurations. The decision can be taken at a later stage and the rules can be laid down in the Council's internal rules.
Whatever formula is decided on for the presidency of the Council configurations, the term of office of each presidency must not last more than one year. Chairing a Council, on top of discharging a national mandate, is a heavy task. It is possible to do both for up to one year at the most.
- The "double-hat" solution for the Minister of Foreign Affairs is one of the most important and innovative aspects of the draft Constitution. The Convention sought to find a balanced solution that was effective and coherent. What matters is not the name. If anyone feels this is indispensable, the position could also be termed the "Union Foreign Secretary", i.e. the Secretary-General of the Union.
The Minister is to be given a clear, explicit mandate from the Council as regards the Common Foreign and Security Policy. At the same time, the Minister will be a member and vice-president of the Commission. As a member of the Commission, he or she will take part in decisions on all areas within the Union's competence. It would be simplistic to imagine distinguishing between decisions on issues directly linked to external action and others. Almost any sector of the Union's internal policies has important repercussion for external action.
If the Conference were to throw out the "double-hat" approach, the current difficulties would inevitably be there again -- with a Commissioner for external relations on the one side and a High Representative on the other, their roles unavoidably overlapping. So I recommend the Convention's text be left to stand.
- The Convention opted for a Commission comprising one Commissioner per Member State. But they way it organised this is complicated and unworkable. I am convinced that the proposal for a "two-tier" Commission brings neither efficiency nor legitimacy.
The Commission must number one Commissioner per Member State with equal rights, and it must be able to function effectively at the same time. The formula we propose reduces the load on the College and ensures that all Commissioners are responsible for important decisions.
Some States fear that the solution we propose may leave the door open to the introduction of a "Directory" within the institution.
There is no truth in this because:
- We have based ourselves on a model that has worked in the past and works today: a large number of decisions are already adopted by written procedure (the rule that "silence means consent") or by empowerment of one or more Commissioners (we already have a Group on competitiveness and one on external relations).
- Each Commissioner can oppose a decision taken by a group of Commissioners and can ask for an issue to be dealt with by the whole College.
- All decisions on major strategic topics (the budget, the financial perspective, the annual work programme, etc.) will be adopted by the whole College.
- Lastly (and this is absolutely vital), we must be able to amend the Constitution in the future. A Constitution cannot be amended and ratified unanimously by 25 different parties. It comes down to a Constitution that can never be amended, which means it will fall apart at the very first hitch.
- But we will have a chance to talk about this again at forthcoming meetings.