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  A Constitution for the Citizens of Europe
  Reformed Institutions
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en Francais

A Constitution for the Citizens of Europe

Why a Constitution for Europe ?
A more democratic Europe
Union Values
A simplified, legible framework

From Treaties to a Single Constitution for all of Europe

Until now Europe has been built on a succession of treaties that were negotiated by the States. This method gave rise to positive developments and has enabled progress in the construction of Europe over the last fifty years.  

The aim of the Constitution is to include the citizens in the continuing construction of Europe.  This objective was attained with the agreement  made on June 18, 2004  in Brussels between the Heads of State and Government. It employed as its basis the work undertaken by the European Convention, which brought together government representatives of the 25 Member States as well as the various European institutions and national parliaments.  

The European Constitution aims to : 

-     replace the actual  system with  a clear and simplified one in terms of the procedures and means of action at the European Union's disposal

-     clarify what falls within the competence of the European Union and the States and finally answer the question :"Who does what?"  

-     strengthen the decision-making capacity of the institutions within the Union 25 while  increasing the democratic legitimacy of these decisions by strengthening representation and promoting citizen participation  

The Constitution structures the functions of the Union authorities, as well as the distribution of competence between the latter and the Member States. It also acknowledges the existence of common values and fundamental rights that consequently acquire legal strength.  

What does the Constitution comprise?

The Constitution comprises four main sections.

The first part contains the Union's objectives and values ; more precisely, the means upon which the institutions decide and act.

The second component  is entirely dedicated to the Charter of fundamental rights that are thereby "constitutionalized" granting them legal legitimacy, which they recently acquired.  In real terms, national and European judges will have to interpret these rights and guarantee that both national and European legislation respect them. 

The third section addresses the various policies that the European Union is responsible for. Finally, the fourth part provides details of the manner in which the Constitution is to be applied and of the existing means to modify it.

In order to be applied, the Constitution has to be accepted by all of the Member States and then ratified by them all. The Member States will be able to ratify the Constitution either by a parliamentary procedure or by consulting citizens directly by a referendum as in France and  ten other European countries to date, thus, providing even greater democratic legitimacy to the European Constitution. If the Constitution is voted against, the European Council will undertake the issue at hand.

As far as the revision of the Constitution is concerned, we should note that the European Parliament can put forward changes and that it does therefore have a similar power of initiative enjoyed by the States and the Commission. In terms of the revision of Union policies, the European Council may unanimously decide to transmute a domain originally ruled by a unanimous vote over to a majority vote.

The Constitution and the Respect of the Member States

The Constitution states that the Union must respect the identity of Member States. The European Constitution does not replace national constitutions but instead exists alongside of them.

The Constitution assures that all Member States will enjoy the "right to voluntary withdrawal" from the European Union. The Constitution guarantees that any State may decide to withdraw from the Union in accordance with the constitutional rules.

"Enhanced co-operation", created by the Amsterdam Treaty (1997), enables States to take the initiative by employing the Union's institutional framework to apply common policies. It extends the application to the defense policy, meaning that States may adhere to advance in this domain without the cooperation of non-consenting States while allowing others to freely partake at any given time.

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