Barnier: Convention should go beyond Nice Declaration

Michel Barnier, the EU Commissioner for Regional Policy, has made a personal contribution to the constitutional debate on the future of the EU. His comments were published on the Commission’s “Futurum” website.

Michel Barnier claims that the terrorist attacks on the USA have given a new urgency to the European political debate. He warns about the difficulties of consensus, and says that a list of options might be better than a “lowest common denominator” consensus. According to Barnier, it will be the task of the President of the Convention to give a strong impulse to make sure that the Convention chooses the most ambitious road for Europe.

In his document, Mr Barnier notes that the mandate of the Convention should stretch beyond the four subjects of the Nice Declaration (the role of the national parliaments; the simplification of the treaties; the status of the Charter of Fundamental Rights and the delimitation of competences). He believes that the Convention should be used, first and foremost, as an opportunity to think about what the European Union wants to be.

In Barnier’s opinion, the Laeken Declaration should orient the members of the Convention by telling them in what “spirit” and in what political framework they should work, so that the Convention does not leave three fundamental questions unanswered:

  • What do we (members of the EU) want to do together?
  • How can we reinforce the democratic legitimacy of our institutions?
  • Should we establish a “pact” of a constitutional nature to unite the Member States and the peoples of the Union?

Barnier also expresses his support for a differentiated integration, allowing some Member States to go further with integration. But he also warns the Convention to face the reality and make a serious evaluation on whether the European project can truly resist the diversities between Member States, which will be even more reinforced after enlargement.

 

As EU Commissioner for Regional Policy and Intergovernmental Conferences (IGC), Michel Barnier will most likely represent the European Commission at the Convention preparing the next IGC on the reform of the treaties. He will also be a member of the presidium of five people, who will steer the Convention's work.

 

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