- The Achievements of the Convention
Building democracy at the supernational level is an unprecedented task, but so once was building democracy at the level of the modern state. By today’s standards we would not likely classify France, Britain, or the United States in the nineteenth century as “democratic,” but in the time they were in the forefront of democratic development. The same can be said for the European Union today, and the progress of the EU in the last half-century has been remarkable. Recent advancements by the Brussels Convention—reflected in the resulting draft treaty for a European Constitution—represent significant steps forward for entrenching the rule of law, the separation of powers, and the people’s input and participation in Europe’s supernational institutions.
The draft's 240 pages comprise four parts, introduced by a preamble. Part I could be described as the actual constitutional section of the document. It defines, in 59 articles, the Union's objectives; fundamental rights and citizenship; compétences; institutions and instruments for action; finances; and membership. Part II, the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the Union, sets forward the Union's common values and its citizens' basic rights. Its provisions fall under the categories of dignity, freedoms, equality, solidarity, citizens' rights, justice, and general provisions governing the interpretation and application of the Charter.
Part III, the Policies and Functioning of the Union, contains provisions on the Union's policies. It coordinates member states' activities in such areas as nondiscrimination and citizenship; economic, monetary, and market policies; social, agricultural, environmental, and infrastructure issues; security and justice; foreign, defense, and commercial policies; and finance. Part IV, General and Final Provisions, groups together protocols and declarations on such matters as the role of national parliaments, the application of the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality, and the apportionment of seats and weighting of votes.
The full text of the draft treaty may be found at http://european-convention.eu.int/docs/Treaty/cv00850.en03.pdf. Most of the preamble, followed by a few selected Articles, appears below:
Our Constitution. . . is called a democracy because power is in the hands not of a minority but of the greatest number. —Thucydides
Conscious that Europe is a continent that has brought forth civilization; that its inhabitants, arriving in successive waves from earliest times, have gradually developed the values underlying humanism: equality of persons, freedom, respect for reason,
Drawing inspiration from the cultural, religious and humanist inheritance of Europe, the values of which, still present in its heritage, have embedded within the life of society the central role of the human person and his or her inviolable and inalienable rights, and respect for law,
Believing that reunited Europe intends to continue along the path of civilization, progress and prosperity, for the good of all its inhabitants, including the weakest and most deprived; that it wishes to remain a continent open to culture, learning and social [End Page 66]
progress; and that it wishes to deepen the democratic and transparent nature of its public life, and to strive for peace, justice and solidarity throughout the world,
Convinced that, while remaining proud of their own national identities and history, the peoples of Europe are determined to transcend their ancient divisions and, united ever more closely, to forge a common destiny,
Convinced that, thus "united in its diversity," Europe offers them the best chance of pursuing, with due regard for the rights of each individual and in awareness of their responsibilities towards future generations and the Earth, the great venture which makes of it a special area of human hope. . . .
Article I-1: Establishment of the Union
1. Reflecting the will of the citizens and States of Europe to build a common future, this Constitution establishes the European Union, on which the Member States confer competences to attain objectives they have in common. The Union shall coordinate the policies by which the Member States aim to achieve these objectives, and shall exercise in the Community way the compétences they confer on it.
Article I-2: The Union's values
The Union is founded on the values of respect for human dignity, liberty, democracy, equality, the...