Vice President of the European Union responsible for Institutional relations
and communication strategy
Debate on the Baron Crespo-Brok report at the European
Brussels, 6 June 2007
I would like to thank the Rapporteurs and the Constitutional Affairs Committee for this report, which adds up to a major contribution in this crucial period. The Commission welcomes your report and shares its main thrust.
Two years after the launch of the reflection period, the political context has kept changing. The Union has been able to find a new consensus on some highly political dossiers, such as agreeing a new Financial package for the years to come.
However, the difficulties that the Constitutional Treaty was addressing have not been solved. The Union is still not able to speak with a single voice on the world arena. We need to improve the democracy, the efficiency, and the transparency of the Union. We have to ensure a better delivery on key policy areas such as migration or climate changes.
This is why we are deeply convinced that Treaty changes are still necessary. But we also believe that there is a strong need to communicate better with the citizens on a new treaty review exercise. This exercise indeed, is not about the building some European construct for its own sake. It is about being able to address an increasingly globalised political environment, and deliver on policies with really matters for our citizens' life.
Moving towards a Treaty settlement will be the key issue of the European Council. The German Presidency has made huge efforts in the past months to build a new consensus among the Member States and the European Institutions. We support the efforts of the Presidency and we hope that the European Council will be able to agree on the launching of a new Intergovernmental Conference.
But we must be very careful. The Constitutional Treaty is indeed a compromise which is difficult to improve, but easy to unravel.
Therefore, for a new negotiation to be successful, the IGC need a clear and stringent mandate. And we also need to have a clear goal in mind, of a new treaty to be in force before the 2009 European elections.
The Commission will continue to play a central part in reaching a solution. If an IGC is to be launched, we will be ready to bring forward our opinion early in July.
A new solution should be capable to command a true and durable consensus. It should be able to strike a balance between the voices of those who ratified already the Constitutional treaty and of those who have not.
But keeping a high level of ambition is essential. A lowest common denominator solution might bring short-term relief, but it could store up problems for the future. Simply introducing minor institutional changes in the Treaty of Nice will therefore not be sufficient.
The Constitutional Treaty was the fruit of a detailed examination at the Convention. It is the result of a careful compromise agreed by all the Heads of States and Governments, and endorsed by the European Parliament.
On the substance, the major part of that work remains valid. The innovations introduced by the Constitutional Treaty are still pertinent. And they need to be translated into reality.
The community method must be protected, including the Commission's right of initiative. The single pillar structure and the single legal personality are tangible instruments to enhance the Union's capacity to act in a global world. Advances in qualified majority voting, and in general the enhanced role of the European Parliament should not be questioned.
The Constitutional Treaty is also bringing a very good solution on to implicate more the national parliaments and it strikes a good balance between the role of the National Parliaments and the role of the European Parliament.
The Commission also remains deeply attached to the binding nature of the Charter of Fundamental Rights, to an effective and coherent voice for Europe worldwide and to the substantial innovations on policies which were set out in the Constitutional Treaty. There must be no dilution of the Single Market, but we are open to examine new idea for developments in certain policy area, to face new or reinforced key policy challenges, such as sustainable development, migration or energy.
The Commission shares the view that the European Parliament should be closely associated to the coming IGC, at least matching the involvement it enjoyed in the previous IGC. Together, we should also intensively continue our efforts to engage the citizens and the civil society in an effective dialogue about the future of Europe. Together, we ought to explain to citizens what is at stake and why a new treaty settlement is necessary to making the Union capable to face the challenges of the age of globalisation.
This will be even more important in the crucial phase, which will begin on the basis of the European Council decisions.
I look forward to working closely with you to make this a reality.