IEP Lunch Debate with Dr. Angelica SCHWALL-DÜREN: “How to Proceed with the EU Constitutional Process?”
The constitution is not dead. This was the assessment with which Dr. Schwall-Düren, MP, Deputy Chair of the SPD Bundestag Faction, opened this IEP Lunch Debate on “How to Proceed with the EU Constitutional Process”. There still exists in Europe a significant interest in the implementation of the goals of the constitutional treaty. Therefore, among the priorities of the German Council Presidency is giving the constitutional process new impetus. Even though the problems are unlikely to be resolved in the first half of 2007, the federal government could draft a kind of Road Map for further progress. In the view of Schwall-Düren, the federal government finds itself in a dilemma: On the one hand, one can only come to solutions if one intensively discusses different options with European partners, but on the other hand, too much publicity of such deliberations contributes to their being prematurely “discussed to death”. Schwall-Düren categorized the large number of proposals and considerations according to eight models and evaluated them as follows:
1. Giving up the constitutional project and relying on Nice, something that, given the deficiencies of the Nice Treaty, holds the danger of the inability to act in an enlarged Union.
2. The continuation of the ratification process and ratifying the treaty in as many countries as possible with the goal of placing increased pressure on countries that have not yet done so.
3. Extensive renegotiation, though it is unclear whether these would have a “better” result than the current constitutional treaty.
4. The implementation of individual constitutional treaty reforms within existing primary law (cherry picking). This, however, would bring similar problems as an extensive renegotiation. It would additionally result in the danger of allowing forces that support a strengthening of intergovernmental elements to better assert themselves.
5. The introduction of opt-out regulations. However, the reasons for rejection in France and the Netherlands were so different that it would be difficult to find individual elements to include in such opt-out regulations.
6. Limiting the constitution to the first two parts, while the third part must be rewritten or replaced by the Treaty of Nice. Here, however, there would be the danger that the general population would view this as a “trick” to rescue an already rejected constitution, and acceptance of the document would decrease even more.
7. Revisiting the model of a core Europe. There would however remain the question of whether such a core Europe without France and the Netherlands could function at all.
8. Adding to the constitution a protocol on national and social identity, above all in order to counter the concerns in France and the Netherlands.
Having considered the many proposals and objections, Ms. Schwall-Düren came to the conclusion that the most sensible strategy would include a combination of a continuation of the ratification process (Point 2) and the passage of a protocol on national and social identity (Point 8) in order to provide the starting point for a renewed attempt at ratification in France.
In the following discussion, the question was raised whether such a protocol would not provoke additional resistance, especially in Great Britain where there are fundamentally different conceptions of the roll of the welfare state than in France. An additional point brought into the discussion was the possibility of calling a new, directly elected constitutional convention. Another proposal was aimed at excluding the extensive and heavily criticized part three from the primary law and categorizing it under a new legal framework according to the French model of loi organique.
In the end it was made clear that all of these strategy proposals first require a clarification of the situation concerning the continuation of the constitutional process in France.
By: Dr. Daniel Göler