Reflections on the European relaunch

DISCLAIMER: All opinions in this column reflect the views of the author(s), not of EURACTIV Media network.

In this Fondation Robert Schuman paper, Hubert Haenel, former member of the Convention on the Future of Europe and president of the French senate’s EU delegation, proposes a new approach.

The author explains that the institutional content of the Constitutional Treaty needs to be maintained. At the same time, he argues that the countries that have voted against the treaty (France and the Netherlands), as well as those who have not expressed themselves need to be heard too.

Haenel thinks it is crucial objectively to analyse the reasons for the French and Dutch rejections, as well as the reluctance by seven member states that have put ratification on hold.

He thus proposes to deal with the issues according to the expectations of the European citizens, such as the improvement of economic and social governance, the fight against cross-border crime, the reinforcing of EU external action and the clarification of the division of competences between the Union and member states.

According to Haenel, the Constitutional Treaty contained many elements that respond to these expectations. Certain elements could therefore be taken up in an “intermediary treaty”, which may be adjusted to current demands, in order to accomplish a relaunch of the European project.

The author believes that solving the institutional impasse needs to be achieved by proving the Union’s efficiency in concrete terms. Such an intermediary treaty should be ratified by 2009, ahead of the European elections and the new composition of the Commission.

In a second step, a “founding treaty” should be adopted, which follows from a in-depth public debate on the goals of the European project.

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