A Fundamental Law of the European Union -  - ebook

A Fundamental Law of the European Union ebook



The financial crash and lengthy economic recession have tested the institutions of the European Union as never before. Debate about the future of Europe has polarized: Some want no more integration; others campaign for disintegration. Those who believe in deeper unity and a stronger federal Europe have yet to make their case. "A Fundamental Law" does that by offering a prospectus for radical reform. It amends the Lisbon Treaty to make the government of the EU more powerful and democratic. It embraces banking and fiscal union while showing the way forward to a legitimate settlement of Europe's constitutional dilemma. Ten years after the Convention on the Future of Europe proposed its constitutional treaty, the Spinelli Group of federalist MEPs has drafted comprehensive proposals for an ambitious new treaty. Anyone who wonders how a more united Europe should best be governed should read this. The members of the next Convention will.

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Bibliographic information published by the Deutsche Nationalbibliothek

The Deutsche Nationalbibliothek lists this publication in the Deutsche Nationalbibliografie; detailed bibliographic data is available on the Internet at http://dnb.d-nb.de.

© E-Book-Volume 2013

© 2013 Verlag Bertelsmann Stiftung, Gütersloh

Responsible: Thomas Fischer, Joachim Fritz-Vannahme

Production editor: Christiane Raffel

Cover design: Elisabeth Menke

Cover illustration: Shutterstock/Adisa

Typesetting and Printing: Hans Kock Buch- und Offsetdruck GmbH, Bielefeld

ISBN 978-3-86793-537-1 (Print)

ISBN 978-3-86793-538-8 (E-Book PDF)

ISBN 978-3-86793-562-3 (E-Book EPUB)



A Fundamental Law


How to Read the Text

A Fundamental Law of the European Union: Why Europe Needs a New Constitutional Treaty

















































Last Words

A Fundamental Law

The unity of Europe is vital if global challenges are to be met and European values and interests promoted. But how should the new polity of the European Union be governed?

The present constitutional architecture is hardly fit for the purpose. Executive authority is dispersed and democratic accountability weak. Expedient measures needed to address the financial and economic crisis have stretched the present EU treaties close to their limits.

The Union’s system of governance must be reformed if it is to deliver much needed public goods at home and decisive leadership abroad. In the face of hostile public opinion, the national governments of its Member States fear to give the EU the powers and resources it needs. National parties and parliaments fail to embrace the European dimension of politics.

So the European Union needs to assert itself. European challenges can be met only in a European way.

This proposal for a Fundamental Law of the European Union is a comprehensive revision of the Treaty of Lisbon (2007). Replacing the existing treaties, it takes a major step towards a federal union. It turns the European Commission into a democratic constitutional government, keeping to the method built by Jean Monnet in which the Commission drafts laws which are then enacted jointly by the Council, representing the states, and the European Parliament, representing the citizens. All the reforms proposed are aimed at strengthening the capacity of the EU to act.

The Union reformed along the lines established in the Fundamental Law will be more efficient and effective, more transparent and accountable. The Spinelli Group of MEPs recommends the Fundamental Law for consideration by the Convention which will soon be called upon to amend the EU treaties.


A Fundamental Law of the European Union is elaborated under the auspices of the Spinelli Group whose board comprises Elmar Brok, Dany Cohn-Bendit, Andrew Duff, Isabelle Durant, Sylvie Goulard, Roberto Gualtieri, Jo Leinen and Guy Verhofstadt. A working party of MEPs was established under the coordination of Andrew Duff.

While all support its publication as an important contribution to the debate on the future of Europe, members of the Spinelli board are not bound individually by all aspects of the draft treaty.

The writing of A Fundamental Law has been shaped by discussions in the wider group of Spinelli MEPs and in the Union of European Federalists. A number of officials from the EU institutions, who remain anonymous, have helped us with sound advice, as have our own collaborators: Matteo Adduci, Philip Drauz, Maria Laura Formisano, Daniel Freund, Guillaume McLaughlin, Fabian Pescher, Maxime Rolland-Calligaro, Miriam Schoeps, Pierre-Jean Verrando, Christian Wenning and Sietse Wijnsma. Pier-Virgilio Dastoli gave us the benefit of his long experience in the federalist circles. From outside the institutions, we thank Christophe Hillion and René Repasi, and our many interlocutors in governments and parliaments, think-tanks and academic circles who, perhaps unwittingly, have shaped our approach.

We thank the Bertelsmann Stiftung, which shares with the Spinelli Group the leitmotif for a federal Europe, for its support. The Bertelsmann Stiftung publishes the Fundamental Law as a major contribution to the debate on the future of Europe.

How to Read the Text

The text of the Fundamental Law of the European Union postulates a general revision of the Treaty of Lisbon (2007). It amalgamates the Treaty on European Union (TEU) and the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), and updates and amends them. It integrates the Charter of Fundamental Rights (CFR). It incorporates the essence of the Euratom Treaty (1957) and of the Fiscal Compact Treaty (2012). The 1976 Act on the direct election of the European Parliament, as amended, is transported into a protocol.

There are 437 articles in eight parts, plus a preamble, and 18 protocols. Each chapter is preceded by a short explanatory comment summarising its main features.

Part I (Articles 1–144) contains all the constitutional and institutional provisions.

Part II (Articles 145–198) is the Charter.

Part III (Articles 199–217) concerns the finances of the Union.

Part IV (Articles 218–246) is the policies and organisation of economic and monetary union.

Part V (Articles 247–376) lays out the sectoral policies of the Union.

Part VI (Articles 377–398) deals with the area of freedom, security and justice.

Part VII (Articles 399–405) covers the association of overseas territories.

Part VIII (Articles 406–437) provides for the external affairs of the Union.

The new treaty is laid out in the right-hand column. Equivalent clauses from the TEU, TFEU and CFR are laid out in the left-hand column.

No change is indicated by ‘…..’ in both columns. Words emboldened seek to draw attention to the more important changes and novelties. In stylistic changes, ‘Member States’ become ‘States’, and ‘national parliaments’ become ‘State Parliaments’.

The official text of the current treaties and the Charter is found at: http://register.consilium.europa.eu/pdf/en/08/st06/st06655-re07.en08.pdf

Finally, a table of equivalences marries the old and the new.

A Fundamental Law of the European Union: Why Europe Needs a New Constitutional Treaty


The financial and economic crisis has exposed many shortcomings in the way the European Union is run. Confidence that the experiment of European integration is ‘condemned to succeed’ has been shaken. The hope that the introduction of the euro would lead smoothly to the greater integration of Europe’s national economies has been dashed. The cohesion of the eurozone and the wider internal market is at risk. Growth has stalled and the drive to greater competitiveness is frustrated. Governments have been too weak to complete the structural reforms which they espouse. National supervision of the banking sector has failed.

At the level of the heads of government, meeting in the European Council, the response has tended to be too little too late. Under the pressure of external shocks, the EU has managed to put in place a regulatory framework for the financial services sector which should prevent a banking meltdown. Smart action by the European Central Bank (ECB) has so far avoided a country from exiting the euro. But for all the crisis management measures, progress towards building a proper banking union has slowed and confidence has not returned. Courtesy of the EU and the IMF, fiscal discipline has been imposed in countries that could not impose it upon themselves. Yet rigid austerity is proving counterproductive, certainly in terms of youth unemployment and of escalating national debt.

In such circumstances it is hardly a surprise that ‘Europe’ is getting blamed, although the precise target of the blame remains unclear because the governance of the Union is diffuse and opaque. Citizens who look to Europe for more solidarity are bound to be disappointed. Despite many months of technical talks, the political debate among Europe’s leaders about the possibility of sharing the burden between tax-payers at the European level has scarcely begun. The large majority of national party leaders in government and opposition maintain their rhetorical commitment to the Union, but the European Council has had to resort to ways and means outside the Union framework, such as the fiscal compact treaty, to shore up the single currency. The governance of the Union itself looks incapable of effective action and is accused of lacking deep democratic legitimacy. Nationalist opposition to the European project, masquerading as ‘euroscepticism’, grows.

And abroad, in a troubled world, much more is expected of the European Union in international affairs than it is able to deliver. Although the European External Action Service is operational, the reforms introduced by the Treaty of Lisbon to the direction of the EU’s common foreign, security and defence policies have not succeeded as much as was hoped.

So how should a more united Europe best be governed?

In response to this crisis, federalists argue that the European Union must deepen its integration or risk falling apart. ‘More of the same’ is not an option. The historic mission to unite Europe’s states and peoples needs to be refurbished. Reform needs to be driven not by a retreat to old nationalisms but by a fresh assertion of the values and principles on which the Union is founded, aided by modern standards of open, democratic government, with the powers and resources needed to meet contemporary challenges.

These challenges require the Union to reform fundamentally its constitutional architecture. A more federal structure would provide for more unity and cohesion between its member states and more solidarity among its citizens. By ‘federal’ we do not mean a centralised superstate but, rather, a constitutional union in which different levels of democratic government are coordinate, not subordinate. The federal legal framework would serve to strengthen government at the level of the Union for the exercise of those competences conferred by treaty on the Union. A more federal democratic system would bring the Union and its citizens closer together, and make the Union’s institutions more responsive to the needs and aspirations of the people they serve. These reforms, building on what has been achieved so far and lessons learned during the crisis, brought together in a Fundamental Law, will bolster the European Union for the longer term at home and abroad.

Status quo no longer

Reluctance to embark on the complex and serious business of EU treaty reform is perfectly understandable. Many are intimidated by the relative failure of the last big effort to develop the Union along federal lines, a process which started in 2001 at Laeken but stumbled in the humiliation of the French and Dutch referendums in 2005, and was only to be concluded when the Treaty of Lisbon came into force in December 2009. We should do better this time: the scale and gravity of the present crisis change the context in which this round of reform is conducted as well as providing the occasion for it.

Although much has been and is being done under the Treaty of Lisbon to address the crisis, treaty revision is inescapable if the more fiscally integrated Union is to be put on a surer foundation. A new treaty is needed to mark the important fresh stage in European integration in which the eurozone is transformed into a fiscal union run by a federal economic government. To fail to make this transformation jeopardises the EU’s very survival. The present treaties are being stretched close to their limits by the welter of crisis management measures, which unintentionally render the EU even more officious and technocratic than before.

Where is the democratic legitimacy of the European Council, for example, in imposing tax rises in Greece or wage cuts in Portugal? How is the European Commission to be held accountable for its work as a member of the economic troika, along with the ECB and the IMF? While such a situation might be tolerable on the grounds of expediency in the very short term, there is bound to be an adverse reaction in the markets and in the courts, to say nothing of on the streets, if nothing is done to regularise the situation by restoring in a democratic manner the scrupulous rule of law.

How to change the treaties

Article 48 of the Treaty on European Union tells us how to change the treaties. The amendment process will start with a Convention and continue with an Intergovernmental Conference. It will conclude with ratification by all 28 Member States of the Union according to their own constitutional requirements. In several countries, either those constitutional requirements or mere political expediency will involve the holding of a national referendum.

How successful and quick this constitutional exercise will be depends on the scope of its ambition and, to some extent, on the quality of its preparation. The Spinelli Group of federalist MEPs publishes this Fundamental Law as a contribution to that preparation. We draw conclusions from our experience of previous rounds of treaty change, and do not hesitate to recommend adjustments to the Treaty of Lisbon in the quest for a better governed Union.

We look forward to receiving in due course other informed contributions towards treaty change, not least from the European Commission.

We already know that the intergovernmental Treaty on Stability, Coordination and Governance (better known as the fiscal compact treaty) lays down that its substance is to be incorporated into the legal framework of the Union before the end of 2017. Likewise, some elements of the ambitious agenda for banking and fiscal union require legal bases which can only be assured through treaty change.

Pressure from the judiciary will also spur the treaty revision exercise – not least from the German Federal Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe, worried about the democratic legitimacy of the European project and the incursion of the Union into areas of law, notably on taxation, which have previously been subject to the exclusive realm of national parliaments.

We take note of the intention of the British Prime Minister, David Cameron, to renegotiate the terms of British membership of the EU. By way of a catalyst, the UK government is already conducting a unilateral review of EU competences and powers, presumably with an eye to possible repatriation. A referendum looks certain in Britain as soon as 2017, presumably on the outcome of the treaty negotiations.

So, starting in all probability in spring 2015, there will be a Convention to draft the treaty amendments. The main items on the agenda of the Convention begin already to be clear: to codify in the primary law of the Union the essential elements of reinforced economic governance; to rectify some of the weaker provisions of the Lisbon treaty; and to cater for British renegotiation.

The Convention will be made up of representatives of the European Council, the European Commission, the European Parliament and national parliaments. It will sit probably for many months to reflect on the present state of the Union, to consult widely, and to consider the various proposals for reform. It will work by consensus, and its outcome will be sent forward to member states in the hope that unanimity can be achieved. The Convention process in itself provides a high degree of democratic legitimacy combined with legal rigour, in which national governments and parliaments have equal status with the EU institutions.

New forms for new functions

For the sake of argument, let us call our new constitutional treaty A Fundamental Law of the European Union. Merging the current Treaty on European Union (TEU) and the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) into one document allows us to shorten the whole by reducing repetition and eliminating duplication, and to rearrange the chapters in a more logical way.

We lift many prohibitions on the powers of the European Commission, European Parliament and European Court of Justice, rendering the system of governance more permissive and thus more capable. The number of different types of decision-making procedure is reduced. Most passerelle clauses, blocking minorities, emergency brakes, automatic accelerators are abolished – all clever devices which may or may not have been intended ever to be used, but the inclusion of which in the Lisbon treaty has led in practice to nervous disorder. Likewise, many of the 37 Protocols and 65 Declarations attached to the Treaty of Lisbon, which seek to blunt the force or bend the interpretation of original clauses, are proposed to be deleted.

In making these changes, we will unlock the potential of the Union and reduce the sense of instability. This treaty revision is meant to last: the Fundamental Law must reassure the citizen that it provides a durable settlement of the business of the governance of the Union, along with a clearer sense of things to come.

The Fundamental Law implies a renewal of the pact on which the Union is founded along overtly federal lines. Those who sign up to it will be committing to the building of a federal polity with an enhanced capacity to act in any given field. Membership of the euro is taken as given once the convergence criteria are met. Methods are proposed to closely associate the ‘pre-ins’ with the decisions of the eurozone. The scope for opt-outs and derogations is minimised. States will be expected to conform to the emerging common foreign, security and defence policies of the Union as well as to the development of the area of freedom, security and justice.

Mindful of the need to protect the integrity of the existing corpus of EU law, our new treaty evolves from its predecessors and builds on experience. The purpose of the Fundamental Law is to provide a robust constitutional framework inside which Europe’s governors and law makers are enabled to make effective choices about the future direction of policy and the joint management of their affairs.

At the same time, the Union must be amply equipped with such competences and its institutions with such powers as are needed to meet new challenges, not least in fiscal matters and also in the energy sector where we integrate the essence of the Euratom Treaty.

Sharing the burden

The main innovation of the Fundamental Law, spelt out in Part IV, is the installation of an economic government of the fiscal union. It will become possible for the Union to develop a common economic policy in addition to coordinating national economic policies. The eurozone is deemed to operate under the provisions of enhanced cooperation which allow some states to integrate further and faster than others. The euro states, for example, will enjoy their own fiscal capacity for contra-cyclical purposes in addition to the general EU budget.

The government of the Union’s financial and economic policies is based on the European Commission which will acquire a treasury facility for the borrowing and lending of funds. A new post of Treasury Minister is created with the job of stabilising the Union’s economy and allocating its resources. Since economic policy reforms by the member states impact upon the rest of the Union, national plans must be discussed and coordinated ex ante. In order to ensure the establishment and the functioning of the internal market and to avoid distortion of competition, the Union can adopt acts in accordance with the ordinary legislative procedure to harmonise direct and indirect taxes.

The Fundamental Law provides for the European Stability Mechanism to operate in primary as well as secondary markets. While codifying the new supervisory powers of the European Central Bank as the cornerstone of the banking union, it makes provision for the subsequent creation of a possible single financial services authority. The Fundamental Law permits the progressive mutualisation of a portion of sovereign debt, and lifts the prohibition, under certain conditions, on EU deficit financing. Legal bases are created for a common resolution mechanism and a deposit guarantee scheme.

The Fundamental Law codifies in primary law the key elements of the recent Six Pack and Two Pack legislation which strengthened EU surveillance and supervision of the individual state economies. The European Parliament has extended powers in the design of the employment and macro-economic policy guidelines, and both it and national parliaments obtain powers to intervene in the application of the excessive debt and deficit procedures. A decision by the Commission declaring a state to be in excessive debt or deficit will be valid unless the Council can marshal substantial opposition to it.

In Part III of the Fundamental Law, the Union’s financial system is transformed, involving the abolition of rigid juste retour and the phasing out of the system of direct contributions from national treasuries. Revenue based on direct and indirect taxation will accrue directly to the EU. We abolish the unanimity rule for the decisions on own resources and the multi-annual financial framework. In a change to the annual budgetary procedure, we oblige the Council to share with the Parliament the responsibility of concluding an agreement. The new financial system of the Union will be fair, transparent and buoyant.

Democratic government

The Fundamental Law makes it explicit that Parliament and Council form the legislature of the Union and that the Commission is to be regarded as its government. Many of the executive powers now held by the Council are transferred to the Commission, subject to a possible recall by the legislature. This clearer separation of powers should make it possible for each institution to be held to account for its performance.

The role of the European Council is adjusted to reduce the risk of tension and confusion between it and the Commission. The post of supernumerary ‘permanent’ President of the European Council is abolished in favour of the election by the heads of government of one of their number to chair their meetings for a period of two and a half years. The European Council is made more responsible than it is today for directing and coordinating the affairs of the Council of ministers: heads of government will be enabled to sit as the General Affairs Council.

Reflecting its role as a legislative chamber, the rotating presidency of the Council of ministers is replaced by the election, in and by each formation of the Council, of a chair for two and a half years. The president of the Council of finance ministers (Ecofin) will also chair the Eurogroup. These changes will surely enhance continuity and improve the quality of chairmanship.

The European Parliament, representing directly the 508 million EU citizens, plays the central role in safeguarding the legitimacy of decisions. Throughout the Fundamental Law, co-decision between Parliament and Council replaces the Council’s current rights to legislate alone. That change involves, among others, the design of the European Stability Mechanism, and the formulation of employment and macro-economic guidelines.

The European Commission is made more directly accountable to the European Parliament. The President-elect of the Commission is empowered to choose the size and composition of his or her own college, subject to parliamentary hearings. We assume a smaller Commission. This important change will provide for a more efficient executive less beholden to national governments and more capable of defining and promoting the common interest of all states and citizens.

As far as the European Parliament is concerned, provision is made for a pan-European constituency from which a certain number of deputies will be elected from trans-national lists. Such electoral reform will turn the European political parties into decent campaigning organisations, providing what is now a missing link between the electorate and elected. Parliament gains the power of co-decision on the vexed question of its seat. And it will have the right to vote on the opening and closure of all international agreements, and to give its assent to the accession of a new member state.

While the Commission retains its right to initiate EU laws, Parliament and Council gain the right to launch their own legislative proposals if the Commission declines to do their bidding. Parliament is enabled to push for the sacking of an individual Commissioner. In the case where MEPs decide to censure the whole Commission, Parliament must at the same time be able to elect a successor.

Citizenship a reality

As a federal entity the legitimacy of the European Union stems from two distinct sources, its states and its citizens. Through a change in the Preamble this is made clear in the very beginning of the Fundamental Law.

We upgrade the status and content of European Union citizenship by giving rightful prominence to the Charter of Fundamental Rights, incorporated in full as Part II of the Fundamental Law. The rules to determine whether a state has breached fundamental rights are modified: Qualified majority voting (QMV) is introduced at the level of the European Council, and the European Parliament and Court of Justice get to be involved.

Access to the European Court of Justice is eased significantly for individuals directly and adversely affected by an EU act. The judicial scope of the Court is widened to embrace areas from which it is at present excluded, including the sensitive fields of internal and external security policy.

The European Ombudsman is enabled to defend the citizens’ rights more effectively, especially by gaining the right to refer cases of a breach of the Charter to the Court of Justice.

The scope of the European Citizens’ Initiative is considerably widened to include political agenda-setting.

A legal base is established to extend the right of every EU citizen living in EU states other than their own to vote in all elections.

Streamlined decisions

Parts V and VI see a rationalisation and streamlining of decision-making procedures, enhancing transparency and efficiency. The Fundamental Law greatly extends QMV in the Council at the expense of unanimous decision making. Notably, this change affects the important ‘flexibility clause’ which allows action to be taken by the Union in certain circumstances when such action has not been expressly foreseen by the treaties.

The Fundamental Law reduces the number of main decision-making procedures to only two. The first, the ordinary decision-making procedure, stays unchanged. The second is a special legislative procedure that replaces the numerous different procedures of the current treaties, and provides for higher QMV thresholds in both Council and Parliament.

Since legislative procedures with unanimous voting requirements are almost entirely abolished throughout the Fundamental Law, the bridging clauses (passerelles), which gave the European Council the possibility to apply QMV in place of unanimity lose their purpose and are deleted. The areas concerned include the multiannual financial framework, social affairs, environmental policy, justice and home affairs, as well as common foreign and security policy. Only the main passerelle, which allows the European Council to transfer matters decided in accordance with the special legislative procedure to the ordinary legislative procedure, as well as the passerelle to ease the decision-making procedures under enhanced cooperation are kept.

A specific new legal base is created for EU agencies.

Common policies refreshed

Part V reforms the chapters on the common policies of the Union and brings a sharper focus to those which need it.

While maintaining the basic free movements of goods, persons, services and capital, the Fundamental Law strengthens the defence of the European social models. Economic policy and the policies of the internal market must be conducted in accordance with the principle of an open, highly competitive social market economy. The Union gains competence to legislate on the fiscal component of free movement of labour, abetting the portability of entitlements across national frontiers.

By tightening the horizontal social clause the Union will integrate requirements linked to the promotion of a high level of employment and social protection. Under the Fundamental Law, economic freedoms may not impair the exercise of social rights and principles as provided for in Union and state law. The lifting of the prohibition for the Union to legislate on pay further strengthens the social aspect.

In addition to the new competence of the Union in the field of energy supply, aimed at creating a genuine internal market, the provisions of the Euratom treaty with respect to nuclear safety are incorporated.

Both the common agricultural policy and common fisheries policy are modernised and disentangled from each other.

A new competition authority is created at arm’s length from the European Commission in recognition of the fact that a more overtly political Commission should not also exercise quasi-judicial functions.

Other policies, such as transport and R&D, are refreshed as necessary to reflect contemporary conditions. Environment policy takes on the additional task of combating climate change.

In Part VI, current prohibitions on the harmonisation of national laws in the field of justice and interior affairs are lifted, raising the prospect of a more integrated European area of freedom, security and justice, including fully-fledged common asylum and immigration policies.

Punching its weight

In Part VIII, the treatment of common foreign and security policy (CFSP) is brought to be more closely aligned with the normal decision-making procedures, not least by enhancing the roles of the Commission and the Foreign Minister. The European Parliament is given the opportunity to exercise a right of consent if it acts within a strict time-limit. The Foreign Minister, who will be assisted by two political deputies, will continue to chair the Foreign Affairs Council but will be anchored more firmly within the Commission. (She or he, with the Treasury Minister will be senior vice-presidents of the college.) The Foreign Minister will normally represent the Union in international fora. The jurisdiction of the Court of Justice is extended over CFSP, and the scope of the flexibility clause is also widened to include CFSP. The normal procedure for the use of enhanced cooperation will now also apply to CFSP. The powers and accountability of the European Defence Agency are enhanced.

The Commission and Parliament also gain powers in the negotiation and conclusion of the Union’s international treaties. Parliament’s approval will be needed for all international agreements, including those in CFSP. Parliament will also be consulted over operational decisions.

Taken together, these reforms should give a much-needed impulse to the external action of the Union. The Fundamental Law simplifies and clarifies who does what in relation to common foreign, security and defence policies and to the international trade policy of the Union. We assume that a growth in mutual trust within the Council will lead to a greater willingness to use QMV, as well as agreement to let clusters of states act on behalf of the Union as a whole.

Radical constitutional changes

The Fundamental Law brings back the symbols of the Union (the flag and the anthem) which were jettisoned from the Treaty of Lisbon. It also elevates into the provisions on enlargement the critical Copenhagen criteria on good governance which must apply to candidate states.

There are two further reforms of major constitutional importance which make the Fundamental Law stand out from previous efforts at treaty revision. The first concerns the method of future treaty change. Here, we keep the method of the Convention, in which decisions are reached by consensus. But we modify the procedure for the Intergovernmental Conference to allow amendments to be agreed by three quarters of the states. The European Parliament gains the right of assent to treaty changes. Any future new treaty will enter into force either once ratified by four fifths of the states representing a majority of the EU population or, if carried in a pan-EU referendum, by a simple majority. This less rigid approach to constitutional amendment will bring the EU into line with all other international organisations and federal states, and help to avoid situations in which one recalcitrant state can take the rest hostage.

The second important constitutional change flows directly from the first. EU states cannot be forced against their will to take the federal step. At the same time, such states cannot be allowed an open-ended possibility to pick and choose what they want from the EU and discard the rest. The point has been reached when yet more à la carte opt-outs and derogations risk fracturing the cohesion of the acquis communautaire. Free-riding means disintegration.

The Fundamental Law creates a new category of associate membership for any member state which chooses not to join the more federal union. Each associate state would negotiate its own arrangement with the core states. Rights and duties would have to be clear. Institutional participation would necessarily be limited. Continued allegiance to the Union’s values would be required, but political engagement in the Union’s objectives would be reduced.

Associate membership could cater for the needs of Norway, Iceland and Switzerland, seeking to improve on their present unsatisfactory arrangements. Other countries, notably Turkey, choosing not to join the EU but desiring and deserving a permanent, structured relationship with it, might find associate membership to be a credible lasting settlement.

Such are the main features of the Fundamental Law, a new constitutional treaty which will strengthen the governance and cohesion of the Union and bolster democratic confidence in our common endeavour to build a better Europe.



This Preamble replaces the two preambles from the Treaty on European Union (TEU) and the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU). It draws from the Treaty of Paris of 1951 (‘destiny henceforward shared’) and from the Treaty of Rome of 1957 (‘ever closer union’). It introduces the idea of the interdependence of member states of the EU and asserts the openly federal character of the reformed EU which is postulated by this new Fundamental Law (FL). It defines the much misrepresented concept of federalism as ‘deriving legitimacy from popular sovereignty in which no one level of government is subordinate to another but each is coordinate’.

To underline the legitimacy of the new federal union the Preamble asserts itself on behalf of ‘We the Peoples of Europe’ in place of the heads of the old nation states. The European peoples are to be represented in the constitutional Convention which drafts the Fundamental Law by both the member states and the institutions of the European Union (in the form of representatives of the heads of government and of European Commission, and Members of the European Parliament and national parliaments).







RESOLVED to mark a new stage in the process of European integration undertaken with the establishment of the European Communities,

RESOLVED to substitute for age-old rivalries the merging of our essential interests; to create a broad and deep community among peoples long divided; and to lay the foundations for institutions which will give direction to a destiny henceforward shared,

RECALLING the historic importance of the ending of the division of the European continent and the need to create firm bases for the construction of the future Europe,

CONFIRMING their attachment to the principles of liberty, democracy and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms and of the rule of law,

CONFIRMING our attachment to the principles of liberty, democracy and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms and of the rule of law,

CONFIRMING their attachment to fundamental social rights as defined in the European Social Charter signed at Turin on 18 October 1961 and in the 1989 Community Charter of the Fundamental Social Rights of Workers,

DESIRING to deepen the solidarity between their peoples while respecting their history, their culture and their traditions,

DESIRING to deepen the solidarity between our peoples while respecting their history, their culture and their traditions,

DESIRING to enhance further the democratic and efficient functioning of the institutions so as to enable them better to carry out, within a single institutional framework, the tasks entrusted to them,

RESOLVED to achieve the strengthening and the convergence of their economies and to establish an economic and monetary union including, in accordance with the provisions of this Treaty and of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, a single and stable currency,

DETERMINED to promote economic and social progress for their peoples, taking into account the principle of sustainable development and within the context of the accomplishment of the internal market and of reinforced cohesion and environmental protection, and to implement policies ensuring that advances in economic integration are accompanied by parallel progress in other fields,

RESOLVED to establish a citizenship common to nationals of their countries,

RESOLVED to implement a common foreign and security policy including the progressive framing of a common defence policy, which might lead to a common defence in accordance with the provisions of Article 42, thereby reinforcing the European identity and its independence in order to promote peace, security and progress in Europe and in the world,

RESOLVED to facilitate the free movement of persons, while ensuring the safety and security of their peoples, by establishing an area of freedom, security and justice, in accordance with the provisions of this Treaty and of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

AFFIRMING as the essential objective of our efforts the constant improvements of the living and working conditions of the people,

CONFIRMING the interdependence of the Member States of the European Union,

RESOLVED to continue the process of creating an ever closer union among the peoples of Europe, in which decisions are taken as closely as possible to the citizen in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity,

RESOLVED to continue the process of creating an ever closer union among the peoples of Europe by building a federal union deriving legitimacy from popular sovereignty in which no one level of government is subordinate to another but each is coordinate,

IN VIEW of further steps to be taken in order to advance European integration,

RESOLVED by thus pooling their resources to preserve and strengthen peace and liberty, and calling upon the other peoples of Europe who share their ideal to join in their efforts,

HAVE DECIDED to establish a European Union and to this end have designated as their Plenipotentiaries: …..

HAVE DECIDED to establish a European Union and to this end have designated as their Plenipotentiaries: …..




This chapter sets out in 16 articles the basic precepts, values, principles and objectives of the European Union, along with the outline of its system of governance.

Article 1 establishes that the Fundamental Law is a constitutional treaty which re-founds the EU to mark the new and necessarily more federal phase of European integration. In keeping with the Preamble, the Union’s competences are conferred on it by the Member States and the citizens. The Fundamental Law replaces all the current EU treaties.

Article 2 sets out the values and Article 3 the objectives of the Union. Article 4 sets out general principles of Union law, including its own, well-attested primacy. A new paragraph 4, reflecting jurisprudence of the Court of Justice (ECJ), makes explicit the need for the states to recognise their constitutional obligations to the Union. Article 5 lays down three specific principles, namely conferral of competences, subsidiarity and proportionality.

Article 6 establishes the allegiance of the Union to fundamental rights, notably those spelled out in the Charter, which is incorporated for the first time in the treaties (as Part II). We remove the nervous constraints prescribed by the Lisbon treaty on the potential of the Charter to extend the powers of the Union. This process will accelerate once the EU has acceded to the ECHR. (Note that ex-Article 7 TEU on what happens if a state breaches fundamental rights is moved to Article 133 FL.)

Articles 7 and 8 introduce the idea of EU citizenship. A new paragraph makes it clear that the Parliament and Council form the legislature, and that the Commission is the government. Article 9 broadens the scope of the European Citizens’ Initiative. Article 10 sets out the role in EU affairs of national parliaments, now including the possibility to call for a hearing on the excessive debt and deficit procedure.

Article 11 introduces the EU institutions. In Article 12 we reform the electoral law of the Parliament to include a pan-European constituency electing MEPs from transnational party lists. An arithmetical formula for the apportionment of the rest of the seats is foreseen. Parliament’s basic voting procedures are prescribed.

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