Elmar Brok MEP: ''Despite some unfulfilled dreams, European Constitution a great achievement''
"Some of our dreams went unfulfilled. But for all that Europeans have achieved something remarkable in agreeing a joint Constitution," Elmar Brok (CDU - Germany), Chairman of the EPP Group in the European Convention said today.
It was positive that the European Foreign Service would now be set up via an inter-institutional agreement between the Council and the Commission, without infringing the rights of the European Parliament.
"Arguing about this until the last minute has paid off," Brok said. One effect was that the proposals by Joschka Fischer, the German foreign minister, had been "Brok-ised".
As far as future changes to the Constitution were concerned, the EP would have to agree in cases where the Council wished to make such changes without using the Convention method.
"That was a priority for us in the European People's Party, " said Brok. "It means we've established the basic principle that the parliamentary, democratic Convention will be the rule in any future changes to the Constitution."
At the end of the Convention proceedings the Union symbols (flag, anthem, currency, slogan, special holiday) had all - at the insistence of the vast majority of Convention members - been accepted. That made the Union and its constitutional more comprehensible to the European citizen.
"In a real community it's not just a matter of balance - Europe will only hold together if it is united by emotions as well," Brok said.
Brok said he remained concerned by the fact that there had been no movement at all towards majority voting in foreign policy. Indeed at the last minute France had successfully put pressure on the Convention to re-introduce unanimity for one part of external trade policy (audio-visual and culture), though only where trade agreements in this area might reduce the cultural and linguistic variety of the Union.
Moreover, foreign trade policy remained an exclusive competency of the Union, and trade agreements would require the agreement of the EP. This would strengthen the Union's hand in foreign trade.
The new Constitution would guarantee the inter-institutional balance between the EP, the Council, and the Commission. "And it will also bring Europe closer to the citizen," Brok said. "Europe is no longer the Europe of states, but of its people."
The Charter of Fundamental Rights was now legally binding, and EU citizens could participate via European elections in the choice of who became Commission President, the EU's top job.
Brok concluded by arguing that the upcoming Intergovernmental Conference should be short and sharp, and not reopen the issues decided by the Convention. "Something which has emerged from the broad consensus of parliamentarians should not be changed by diplomats," he said.
(translated from the original German)
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