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“Keep the Substance of the Treaty“

The Institute for European Politics (IEP) in Berlin invited to the round table discussion „Perspec­tives of European Integration and of the Consti­tu­tional Process after the Presi­dential Election in France and before the June Summit of the German Presi­dency“ on Tuesday, 8 May 2007. The meeting brought together members of the European Parliament and academics with research focus on European Integration to discuss the topic.

The future of the European Consti­tu­tional Treaty and possible effects of the French presi­dential elections to the consti­tu­tional process as well as the “ratifi­cation crisis” should be the core topics of the exchange of ideas in the future as Jo Leinen, MEP expressed in his intro­ductory words. He moderated the discussion together with Prof. Dr. Mathias Jopp, director of the IEP, who criti­cised some member states of the European Union for using the current debate to demand further changes of the treaty’s text. The new French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, is hoped to be a constructive working partner for Germany and the European Union; Europe, however, does not seem to be one of his political prerogatives.

During the discussion problems of various issues became obvious: Especially the question of how to proceed with the “consti­tu­tional elements”, such as the flag, the anthem as well as the term “consti­tution” created some contro­versy among the partic­i­pants. In the view of several speakers it was partic­u­larly important to avoid the impression of cheating Europe’s citizens (by simply disposing the symbols), arguing that the European public would not support such a procedure. Again it was pointed out that the substance of the treaty should be kept. In this respect the position of the 18 member states who have already ratified the Consti­tu­tional Treaty should not be ignored – instead of, as is currently the case, focusing solely on those few member states who presently create problems.

As an alter­native to the ratifi­cation of a new treaty text, the possi­bility of “opt-ins” and “opt-outs” was lively discussed at the round table. None of the topics mentioned at the round table was new, however. The consti­tu­tional convent dealt for instance with contro­versial issues like energy and a possible social protocol. Never­theless, the partic­i­pants empha­sised the necessity of a new compromise and named the pushing forward of this reform process the main object of the German EU Council Presidency.

Partic­i­pants (in alpha­betical order):
Jens-Peter Bonde (MEP), Prof. Dr. Tanja Börzel (Free University Berlin), Gesa-Stefanie Brincker M.E.S. (IEP), Richard Corbett (MEP), Dr. Andrew Duff (MEP), Dr. Daniel Göler (IEP), Carlos Carnero González (MEP), Prof. Dr. Klaus Hänsch (MEP), Dr. Pascal Hector (Ministry of Foreign Affairs), Prof. Dr. Markus Jacht­en­fuchs (Hertie School of Gover­nance), Prof. Dr. Mathias Jopp (IEP), Dr. Sylvia-Yvonne Kaufmann (MEP), Timothy Kirkhope (MEP), Jo Leinen (MEP), Dr. Andreas Maurer (SWP), Prof. Dr. Jürgen Neyer (Europe University Viadrina).

By: Pia Menning, Andrea Schilling, Anne Schmidt