Convention’s progress report taken off the Summit agenda

Due to the imminent war in Iraq, EU leaders have taken the debate on the Convention’s progress report off the agenda of their Brussels Summit on 20 March.

The EU leaders were expected to present their views on Mr Giscard’s proposals for the Title IV (the institutions of the enlarged Union) of the draft Constitutional Treaty that will be presented by the Convention Presidium on 10 April and discussed at the plenary session on 24 and 25 April.

The issues requiring the input of EU leaders are:

  • the role of the Council and the European Council in the organisation of competencies;
  • reform of the rotating Presidency;
  • the role and composition of the Commission (whether each Member State should continue having its Commissioner);
  • procedures for the appointment of Commission President and the role of the European Parliament therein;
  • the role of an EU Foreign Minister;
  • the establishment of a Convention or another body (a Congress of national MPs and MEPs) as the forum for future modifications of the Constitutional Treaty.

Also due to the Iraq crisis, a summit of seven small Member States on the eve of the European Council was cancelled. The leaders of Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Austria, Finland, Portugal and Ireland were planning to meet in Brussels on 19 March to co-ordinate their views on the future competencies and institutions of the EU. They oppose the proposal to create a new post of EU President, proposed by Britain, Spain, France and Germany.

On the second day of its 15th plenary session, on 18 March, the Convention debated subsidiarity and the role of national parliaments. The debate was based on two protocols that will be annexed to the future Constitutional Treaty (

see EURACTIV of 14 March 2003).

 

Many members of the Convention were in favour of the proposal that national parliaments should be better informed about the legislative proposals of the Commission and would be able to express their opposition, including before the European Court of Justice. However, a significant number of speakers insisted that only the Member States can refer cases to the Court of Justice.

The majority of speakers insisted that the Commission should be obliged to re-examine its legislative proposals at the insistence of one third of national parliaments. However, most members contested the Presidium's proposal that national parliaments could participate in the conciliation procedure between the European Parliament and the Council.

 

The Convention President Valéry Giscard d'Estaing was scheduled to present the report on the Convention's work to EU leaders on the eve of their Spring Summit on 20 March. In addition, the EU heads of state and government were to discuss a number of specific questions, outlined in Mr Giscard's letter to the European Council President-in-office Costas Simitis.

 

The next meeting of the Convention is on 26 March.

The Convention Presidium is expected to propose the draft treaty articles on EU institutions as planned on 10 April although their ideas will not have been discussed by the European Council.

The Greek Presidency is planning to put the discussion on future EU on the agenda of the Athens Summit of 16 April, where the Accession Treaty with 10 candidate countries will be signed.

 

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