Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Case for the EU Constitution by the EESC

The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) has a Brochure
CASE IN FAVOUR OF THE EUROPEAN CONSTITUTION ADVANCED BY THE EESC
presenting the case in favour of the European Constitution.

Its EUROPE DIRECT service helps citizens find answers to questions about the European Union at the all-Europe freephone number 00 800 6 7 8 9 10 11.

The EESC Brussels address and other contact information is as follows:
European Economic and Social Committee
Unit for Publications and Visits
For all information, please contact :
publications@esc.eu.int
Tel. : +32 (0)2 546 96 04 • Fax : +32 (0)2 546 97 66
Rue Belliard 99 • B – 1040 Brussels
Internet : http://www.esc.eu.int
Catalogue No. : EESC–2005-01-EN

Here is the text of their Brochure:

"On 28 October 2004, the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) adopted,by a very large majority (166 votes to four, with seven abstentions), its opinion on the Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe; this opinion had been requested by the European Parliament.[footnote 1] In its opinion, the EESC makes an unambiguous call for the Constitutional Treaty to be ratified.

[footnote 1 - "(1) Opinion on the Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe (rapporteur Henri Malosse - CESE 1416/2004) This opinion has been appended to the report issued by the Eurpean Parliament on the Constitutional Treaty. The European Parliament held a vote on 12 January 2005; 500 out of a total 677 MEPs took part in the vote, expressed their support for the Treaty by voting for the draft resolution submitted to the Parliament with this report."]

Under the Treaty, the Union would be based on the rights of the citizen and the way would be opened towards greater democracy.

There are eight reasons why civil society should give its support to the European Constitution, namely:

1. This is the first European Treaty which has been drawn up in a democratic way. The Constitutional Treaty was prepared by a Convention consisting, for the most part, of members of parliament and also involving the participation of representatives of the EESC and the social partners.

2. Citizens' rights will be enshrined in the EU Constitution, thanks to the incorporation into the Treaty of the Charter of Fundament Rights. This Charter brings together, in a single text, not only civil, political, economic and social rights, but also new rights linked to the development of society (rights in respect of consumer protection, the environment, access to services of general economic interest, etc.). These rights will, in future, have to be respected by the European Institutions when exercising the powers vested in them; they will also have to be respected by the Member States when implementing EU law. Citizens will, under certain conditions, be entitled to invoke these rights before the courts.

3.Democracy will be strengthened thanks to the new responsibilities vested in the European Parliament. The Council will no longer be able to take decisions by itself; decisions will have to be taken in agreement with the European Parliament in fields such as: agriculture and fisheries; transport; culture; tourism; sport; research; services of general economic interest; energy; public health; immigration; and legal cooperation on civil and criminal matters. All of the annual budget of the EU will also have to be decided upon jointly by the European Parliament and the Council.

4.National parliaments will, for the first time, be involved in the functioning of the Union. They will have the right to monitor compliance with the principle of subsidiarity in respect of the legislative activity of the European Union.

5. The transparency and public nature of the proceedings of the Council of the European Union will in future be guaranteed. Whenever the Council discusses or votes on legislative acts, its proceedings shall be open to the public.

6. The role of the autonomous social dialogue will be strengthened and the reality of participatory democracy will be recognised. The social partners and civil society organisations will be recognised as fully fledged players in the European venture.

7. The Institutions will have to maintain a regular and transparent dialogue with EU citizens and civil society organisations. The Commission will henceforth be obliged to consult these parties before taking initiatives which concern them.

8. A right of popular initiative is to be granted to EU citizens under the Constitution. If a cause is supported by at least one million citizens, drawn from several Member States, they may ask the Commission to present a legislative proposal designed to address their concerns. These steps forward should have the effect of bringing EU policies and decisions more into line with the expectation and aspirations of EU citizens by making the functioning and decision-making process of the Union more democratic. We should therefore present a vision of a Europe which is able to rally its citizens in support of a blueprint for the type of future in which they wish to share, thereby making the European Union into a genuine "Union of states and citizens”, based on shared values, and a Union in which the people will be the players. The European Constitution will also provide a reference framework which will enable the institutions and civil society organisations to carry out more effectively their role as intermediary bodies in order to ensure that EU policies are more in line with the expectations of the public and the socio-economic players. In this context, the Constitutional Treaty provides the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) with an additional opportunity to back up the work of the other institutions and to exercise, to the full, its role of pre-eminent intermediary between organised civil society and the
decision-making bodies of the EU, in order to translate participatory democracy into reality. The adoption of the Constitutional Treaty will also have an impact beyond the borders of the EU. A European Union founded on the rights and involvement of citizens will strengthen its image and influence, promoting social development, peace and understanding between peoples."


See the brochure.
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