A Silent Spring for the Constitution

, by Piia Pappinen

A Silent Spring for the Constitution

During the past few months JEF has concentrated on supporting the ideas presented in a recently adopted report by MEP’s Andrew Duff (UK, ALDE) and Johannes Voggenhuber (Austria, the Greens).

The report deals partly with the same burning questions about EU’s legitimacy and inclusion of people as Wallström’s Plan-D, but in addition sets up a concise structure for debate, evaluation and action, the key factors that Commissions’ proposal overlooks.

Starting from existential questions on the reasoning behind the EU, then giving a practical road-map of Constitutional ratification process and setting up forums of discussion from European level to local political institutions, it hails many of the same demands JEF has had for a long time.

The report emphases among other things a parliamentary dialogue, in the form of “Parliamentary Forums” between the EP and national parliaments. In line with the European Parliament’s proposal JEF supports the idea that debates should have a common template, prepared in the form of “European Papers” shaped by EP, to avoid infiltration of nationalistic agendas to the discussions. Messieurs Voggenhuber and Duff rightly asked that the least parliaments of the “No-countries” could do, is to carry responsibility in front of the Yes-majority of countries for actually telling what they want to be changed in the Constitution. “Citizens’ Forums” (funded by the Commission) would be the talk-shops at the lowest level for civil society to channel out the accumulated frustrations due from not being heard during the decades of EU-integration.

What was left out in the EP bickering was the critical emergency brake. In the preceding versions of the report, an ultimatum for governments continuing their Silent Spring was to convene a new democratically elected Convention or Constituent Assembly, representatives chosen from “Parliamentary Forums”.

Disappointingly the report was tamed down also by dropping out an idea that would have created a real European political sphere and definitely made people realise that EU is more than ministers’ coming back home and blaming EU from difficult political decisions they themselves had made. Slashing the original idea of a European wide consultative ballot on the refurbished Constitution parallel to EP elections 2009 left the report a sad torso. Anyone can see how necessary it is to have a process which leads to real political choices and a concrete outcome, a result that Plan - D fails to do by just trying to talk their way out of the blind alley of EU’s booming popularity poll results.

We therefore demand from the Council to start acting during the Austrian presidency. In next June the results of the “Parliamentary Forums” - the actual wishes of European people should be given to heads of states to finally triumph over their seemingly voluntary, silent inaction.

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