Europe needs a Constitution

JEF’s vision on the Future of Europe

, by Jan Seifert, Peter Matjašič

Europe needs a Constitution

The European Union was created to provide peace, security and prosperity for its citizens. It has achieved much, but its performance still falls short of what its citizens are entitled to expect. Neither the European states alone, nor the European Union as it is today can any longer meet the challenges that confront them.

This is first the management of the European economy after the birth of the Euro, volatile employment and increasing challenges of globalisation. It is more and more evident that we need a democratic government of the European Union and a democratic and federal reform of all the Union’s institutions.

We in JEF believe that it is necessary to transform the European Commission into a real European government, to give the European Parliament full legislative and budgetary powers, to have majority-voting become the rule in the Council, and to give the Union a single foreign, security and defence policy.

In a word, it is time for a European Constitution to transform as soon as possible the European Union into a real European federation.

A clear example of the need for such structures is the urge for a common EU energy policy (see JEF’s view on that at www.jef.eu) that tackles the problems of energy security and links it with environmental issues and broader foreign and security issues. With the current institutional set-up 27 member states never agree, and as a consequence some European countries are paying the price for special comfort the others.

The missing link between the EU and its citizens can only be overcome with a Constitution

A federal Europe is also needed because it provides for a direct link of legitimacy between the citizens and their elected representatives. By creating instruments of direct democracy and enabling popular initiatives, the EU’s legitimacy would increase. National governments and political elites would no longer be able to hold on to their gatekeeper role. The starting point for making the EU democratic, legitimate and functioning in the eyes of its citizens is a federal Constitution. It must be a short and basic document outlining the institutional set-up, values, goals and fundamental rights of citizens in the EU. Unlike the Constitutional Treaty it should not include the definition of specific policies.

Therefore, JEF thinks that it is of vital urgency, that a federal Constitution would be drafted by democratically elected people and adopted by a double majority of states and European citizens in a European-wide referendum. Only this way, the structure of the EU would follow the principles of democracy, strict separation of powers and the rule of law.

European referendum – solving the problem by changing the method

Indeed, a proper pan-European referendum offers the opportunity to get out of the unanimity deadlock that has been stalling Europe’s integration over the last two decades. Once a double-majority of citizens and member states has been positive in the ballot, the Constitution shall come into force. Member states with a majority against can make up their mind within a certain time either to join the Constitutional Europe or to re-negotiate their status towards the Union.

JEF and its parent organisation, the Union of European Federalists (UEF), have launched a petition for a European referendum. The goal is to put pressure on the European Heads of State to come forward with an ambitious Constitution. The signatures are collected at www.europeanreferendum.eu

We in JEF believe that political integration in which the citizens have their say is the only way for Europe to achieve and guarantee the peace, stability, prosperity and democracy for all Europeans and develop into an open European society built on tolerance and mutual respect.

Image:

- European constitution versions, source: Wikipedia, the free online encyclopedia

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