European Council on Foreign Relations

Appeal for a new constitutional convention

Many prominent European intellectuals and politicians - including several ECFR Council members have signed an Italian-German appeal, calling for a reform of the Lisbon treaty and a new constitutional convention for Europe. The appeal has been published in Die Welt and Corriere della Sera. Here is an English translation:

The signing of the ‘fiscal compact’ is a step forward in the development of a European economic governance structure as it complements and strenghens EU initiatives such as the ‘Six Pack’ and the ‘Euro Plus Pact’. The ratification of the treaty is now in the hands of national parliaments. However, they also need to respect the duty of loyal cooperation to achieve the objective of financial stability within the framework of EU law.

But this is certainly not enough. Sustainable growth policies have to be adopted in order to complement austerity and make the proposed budget guidelines more flexible.  We must strengthen the EU’s single market and remove obstacles that restrict the four freedoms - and we must reject the temptation of self-defeating protectionism. The list of these restrictions is well known – also to the European Commission which has already proposed several legislative initiatives waiting to be approved by the Council and the European Parliament.

In order to overcome the crisis of confidence and to offer EU citizens a new European perspective we need to create a public space for democracy and solidarity based on the federal principle of interdependence. In order to achieve this aim we suggest that:

  • The German and Italian parliaments should coordinate the ratification of the ‘Fiscal Compact’ and ratify the treaty before the European Council in June.  Moreover, both parliaments should formulate a joint political declaration calling for a strong political union with a federal government in the spirit of Alcide De Gasperi, Konrad Adenauer and Altiero Spinelli. This political declaration should also include a proposal how to achieve this and what kind of process is envisaged.
  • A vanguard of EU governments shall submit a proposal for an EU Interdependence Declaration to the European Council in June paving the way for a broad societal debate on the future of the European Union with the aim of reforming the Lisbon Treaty.

Four years after the Lisbon Treaty came into force the weaknesses of the treaty are apparent as it did not prepare the EU to deal with the international financial crisis. However, prior to a treaty reform a debate should clarify the EU’s competences and capabilities in areas such as sustainable development, energy policy, immigration, social dimension and specially youth unemployment and fight of poverty, industry, criminal law cooperation, foreign and external security policy.

Furthermore, any transfer of competencies from the member states to the Union should also include a parallel transfer of financial resources to a federal budget. Constitutional decisions have to be taken to guarantee the same level of political, economic and fiscal decision-making by enhancing European democracy and the efficiency of the institutional system of the EU.

We suggest that:

  • the EU Heads of State or government join the EP plenary session on September 10 to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the first European Assembly and request the European Parliament to draft a report on how to reform the Lisbon Treaty. This would enable the Council to approve it before the European elections in 2014.
  • on the basis of this report, as well as taking into account  the debates in the member states, a Constitutional Convention should be establishedafter the European elections and before December 2014.
  • the parliamentary component of the Constitutional Convention shall use the EP as a model and allocate seats accordingly. Majority voting should be the rule.
  • a clause that allows for flexible integration should be included in any new treaty, giving enough time to unwilling countries to join the treaty at a later point in time - or to leave the Union on the basis of article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty.

In two and a half years, about half a billion European citizens will vote for a new European Parliament. The governments and parliaments of the EU should not disappoint the dreams of the people that long for a fair and democratic European society.

Giuliano Amato, Ulrich Beck, Emma Bonino, Elmar Brok, Rocco Cangelosi, Daniel Cohn-Bendit, Pier Virgilio Dastoli, Henrik Enderlein, Enrico Fava, Monica Frassoni, Franco Frattini, Thomas Jansen, Karl Lamers, Jo Leinen, Giacomo Marramao, Luisa Passerini, Ingolf Pernice, Hans-Gert Poettering, Romano Prodi, Alberto Quadrio Curzio, Guido Rossi, Wilhelm Schoenfelder, Barbara Spinelli, Dieter Spöri, Rainer Wieland

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