A solution to the EU’s Constitutional crisis is within reach if leaders concentrate on a short treaty designed to make the Union work better, claims a Friends of Europe discussion paper, published in May 2007. A divided Europe is the risk of failure on the constitutional issue, the report declares.
The new report calls for the text of the Constitution originally agreed upon by governments but rejected by French and Dutch voters to be set aside if the constitutional crisis is to come to an end, with EU leaders limiting their objectives to making some practical changes to the Union’s organisation. Significantly, it calls for an agreement on the slimmed-down Treaty to be reached and put into effect within two years.
The paper insists that the wider use of majority voting and better coordination of decision-making are essential elements to be retained from the stalled Constitutional Treaty if the Union is to be made more democratic and more efficient. It also demands a simplification of the definition of a qualified majority.
However, the report warns that if the road-map launched by Chancellor Merkel fails, then the Union as a whole will find it harder to make progress, with those member states that want to work together seizing the initiative by focusing on the euro zone and the Schengen agreement. The report claims that the Union is not currently working very well, and that its ability to solve urgent problems and launch major new initiatives is limited.
The paper observes that although EU leaders may not want a divided Europe, the long-awaited “hard-core” is now beginning to emerge – with its open frontiers and single currency – and without constitutional agreement, the gap between it and the rest of the Union will only become wider.
The Friends of Europe conclude that although the eurozone and Schengen are in place and working well, without an imminent deal on Treaty reform, the very unity of Europe is at stake.