“We want to strengthen the role of the union, strengthen the role of the citizens and stand as a unit”

By Eva LAUWENS

On Sunday,  the 25thof November 2003, a press conference with the Council of the European Union was organised. As the European Union is experiencing new (and older) challenges at the moment, the Council of the EU wants to simplify the current legislation and the whole EU structure in a constitution, called ‘fundamental EU treaty’.

“The EU parliament will be empowered, the constitution will respect sovereignty and will simplify the current structure of the EU” Quoting the French Republic’s answer to the question how the EU wants to convince member states to ratify the EU constitution. But isn’t the real question if people are waiting for an ever closing European union in times of terror attacks in the U.S, the invasion of Iraq…?

According to the Kingdom of Spain active citizenship will, therefore, be essential to tackle eventual Euroscepticism in the future and by focussing on this topic the hope to create a framework for a European identity was expressed . Besides that the Council also hopes that states see the value in joining the union and want to tackle the lack of democracy in the EU by giving the Parliament legislative initiative.

Stating that “The principle of subsidiarity will be taken into account as it is very important. That there is value in not having a concrete list with competences that will be assigned to the EU yet and that states can choose to give the EU more competences over the course of time” the concerns about the reflection of the principles of subsidiarity and proportionally in the constitution and especially in the competences that will be assigned to the EU was addressed rather vague.

Another big issue the EU is facing at the moment are criteria for states who want to become a member. Criteria are not yet set down but the council agreed on the fact that governments and people must be committed to comply with the EU values. Therefore countries who are not yet able to do so but wish to work towards doing that would be able to become a member. The union will then work together with them on the way to fulfilment of the EU values. The union wants to grow but this at the same time doesn’t go along with having members who do not comply with the values. It seems however that the current member states have not yet found common ground about the countermeasures that will be taken to cope with breaches of the values.

The upcoming months will be crucial and will show us if the council will reach its goal to strengthen the role of the union, strengthen the role of the citizens and stand as a unit.