Archives Archives Archives Archives
The results of the European Convention
General and final provisions
In Part IV of the draft constitution, the Convention lays down the general and
final provisions of the Treaty establishing the Constitution.
The first article lists the symbols of the European Union. Subsequent articles cover repeal of earlier treaties, legal continuity, scope and other matters. The procedure for revising the Constitution is laid down in Article IV-7. The Convention has proposed amending it substantially at some future date. To prepare any revision of the Constitution, a Convention will be convened.
The ratification and entry into force of the Treaty establishing the Constitution
was discussed by the Convention at length, especially as to whether the Constitution
could or could not come into force without first being ratified by one or more Member
The Convention was unable to solve this problem but has suggested that a declaration be attached to the Constitution specifying that the matter must be referred to the European Council, which must then draw conclusions, if one or more Member States fail to ratify the Treaty.
[ Top ]
Once the Treaty establishing the Constitution comes into force, the Treaty establishing the European Community (EC Treaty) and the Treaty on European Union (EU Treaty) are to be repealed, together with any acts and treaties which have supplemented or amended them, including the Single European Act, the Treaty of Amsterdam and the Treaty of Nice (Article IV-2).
Apart from the protocols that the Convention suggests should be annexed to the Constitution and which form an integral part of the Treaty (Article IV-6), the Convention makes no comment on what should be done with the other protocols that are currently annexed to existing treaties and which have the same legal status as the latter. It will be up to the intergovernmental conference (IGC) to decide on this; it is probable that these other protocols will also be annexed to the Constitution.
According to the draft constitutional treaty, the new Union will succeed to all the rights and obligations of the European Community (EC) and the European Union (EU), including all the assets and liabilities of the Community and of the Union, and their archives.
The Convention proposes that a strict legal continuity be maintained between the European Union established by the Constitution and the two existing structures, i.e. the EC and EU (Article IV-3). All the provisions of the acts of the Union's institutions, adopted pursuant to earlier treaties, will remain in force. The case law of the Court of Justice of the European Communities will be maintained as a source of interpretation of Union law.
Finally, the Convention has proposed that the Treaty establishing the Constitution should be concluded for an unlimited period (Article IV-9).
[ Top ]
Of all the earlier treaties, only the Euratom Treaty establishing the European Atomic Energy Community will remain in force. This Community is not to be merged with the Union and will therefore keep a separate legal personality. The Convention has specified the amendments that need to be made to the Euratom Treaty in the "Protocol amending the Euratom Treaty", which will be annexed to the Constitution. This approach reflects a certain caution on the part of the Convention, which considered that its remit did not authorise it to include the Euratom Treaty in its work. Consequently, the amendments made to the Euratom Treaty by the draft constitution consist only of adaptations to the new rules established by the Constitution, particularly in the institutional and financial field.
[ Top ]
The Treaty establishing the Constitution is to be ratified by the Member States in accordance with their respective constitutional requirements. The instruments of ratification are to be deposited with the Italian Government. Since it is difficult to estimate the time needed for completion of the IGC and the ratification process, the Convention has not proposed a precise date for the entry into force of the Constitution. A date for entry into force will be subsequently added to Article IV-8. Should some Member States not have ratified by that date, the Constitution will enter into force "on the first day of the month following the deposit of the instrument of ratification by the last signatory State to take this step".
In view of the problems encountered by Denmark in ratifying the Maastricht Treaty in 1992 and by Ireland in ratifying the Treaty of Nice in 2001, the Convention discussed the possibility of the Constitution entering into force if several Member States did not ratify the constitutional treaty. Some members of the Convention proposed that the Constitution should be able to come into force for the Member States that ratify it provided a minimum threshold, such as the three-quarters of States proposed by the Commission, is reached. As regards the other States which did not ratify the Constitution, a special status could be negotiated for them in order to protect their acquired rights.
The Convention was unable to find a compromise solution on this and has therefore taken over the exact wording of Article 52 of the Treaty on European Union (EU Treaty). Thus, Article IV-8 of the draft constitution requires that the Constitution be ratified by all the Member States. However, the members of the Convention have proposed annexing a "declaration in the final act of signature of the Treaty establishing the Constitution", which provides for a political solution to be found if a Member State fails to ratify the Treaty: "if, two years after the signature of the Treaty establishing the Constitution, four fifths of the Member States have ratified it and one or more Member States have encountered difficulties in proceeding with ratification, the matter will be referred to the European Council ".
The Convention makes no reference to any results of deliberations within the European Council. This question will probably be re-examined during the IGC.
[ Top ]
The Convention has proposed a new procedure for revising the constitutional treaty. This is set out in Article IV-7. To begin with, the European Parliament will, for the first time, be able to submit to the Council of Ministers proposals for the amendment of the Constitution. The members of the Convention propose that the model of a European Convention be perpetuated so that any future amendments to the Constitution can also be prepared by such a body.
Consisting of representatives of the national parliaments, of Heads of State or Government, of the European Parliament and of the Commission , the Convention will be responsible for examining proposals for amendments and adopting, by consensus, a recommendation to the Intergovernmental Conference, which will be convened by the President of the Council of Ministers so as to determine by common accord the amendments to be made to the Treaty establishing the Constitution.
The European Council may decide by a simple majority, after obtaining the consent of the European Parliament, not to convene the Convention if the amendments are relatively minor. In this case, the European Council will define the terms of reference for a conference of representatives of the governments of the Member States, which will draw up the necessary amendments.
[ Top ]
At the end of their discussions, the members of the Convention expressed their
wish to provide the European Union with symbols and to include these symbols in the
draft Constitution. The Convention put them in the first article of Part IV although
it considers that Part I of the Constitution would be a more appropriate position.
This question will have to be examined by the IGC.
Thus, the following symbols of the Union are listed in Article IV-1:
- the flag of the Union, representing a circle of 12 golden stars on a blue background;
- the anthem of the Union, based on the Ode to Joy from the Ninth Symphony by Ludwig van Beethoven;
- the motto of the Union, which is "United in diversity";
- the currency of the Union, which is the euro;
- 9 May, which is to be celebrated throughout the Union as Europe Day, in memory of Robert Schuman's declaration which initiated the process of European integration.
The Convention does not propose creating new symbols. Rather, it takes the symbols that are already used by the EU and are familiar to ordinary citizens, and gives them a constitutional status.
[ Top ]
|IV-1||The symbols of the Union||New provisions|
|IV-2||Repeal of earlier Treaties||New provisions|
|IV-3||Legal continuity||New provisions|
|IV-7||Procedure for revising the Treaty||Significant changes|
|IV-8||Adoption, ratification and entry into force||-|
|Protocol amending the Euratom Treaty||-||-|
|Declaration in the final act of signature of the Treaty establishing the Constitution||-||-|
The fact sheets are not legally binding on the European Commission. They do not claim to be exhaustive and do not represent an official interpretation of the text of the Convention.