Select Committee on European Union Twenty-Second Report


TWENTY SECOND REPORT


13 MAY 2002

By the Select Committee appointed to consider European Union documents and other matters relating to the European Union.

ORDERED TO REPORT

THE FUTURE OF EUROPE: CONSTITUTIONAL TREATY—ARTICLES 33-37 (THE DEMOCRATIC LIFE OF THE UNION)

CONV 650/03  The democratic life of the Union

PART 1: INTRODUCTION

1.  Title VI of the new Treaty, to be entitled "The democratic life of the Union", contains seven draft Articles:

Article 33    The principle of democratic equality;

Article 34    The principle of participatory democracy;

Article 35    The European Ombudsman;

Article 35a    Political Parties at European level;

Article 36    Transparency of the proceedings of the Union's institutions;

Article 36a    Protection of personal data;

Article 37    Status of churches and non-confessional organisations.

2.  The proposed content of this group of Treaty Articles has therefore changed from that envisaged in the Preliminary draft Constitutional Treaty[1], the skeleton text presented to the Convention on the Future of Europe last October by its President, Valéry Giscard d'Estaing. Articles 33, 34, and 36 remain. But Articles dealing with EP elections and voting rules in Union institutions have been omitted and four other provisions (Articles 35, 35a, 36a and 37 above) inserted. One further change has been proposed. Included in the recently published draft articles for Title IV of the Constitution (those dealing with the institutions) is an Article X, entitled the Congress of the Peoples of Europe. The Praesidium has suggested that Article X be inserted into Title VI on "The Union's Democratic Life". We comment on the proposal for a Congress in our Report on the Institutions.[2]

3.  The group of Articles (33-37), the subject of this Report, is intended to "establish a number of principles, to enable citizens to see that:

—they can contribute to the framing of the Union's decisions;

—they can follow the Union's decision-making process, and thus assess it".[3]

This intention responds to the need, as expressed in the Laeken Declaration, to increase the democratic legitimacy and transparency of the institutions. We have endeavoured in this Report to assess how far the Articles go in achieving the stated aims.

4.  Only Articles 33 and 34 are completely new. The others can be traced to provisions in the current Treaties or, in the case of Article 37, Declaration 11 to the Amsterdam Treaty.

5.  This is our fifth[4] Report on the draft Treaty Articles now being discussed in the Convention.[5] The format of this Report follows that of our earlier Reports in this series. Each Article is followed by an Explanatory note[6] (the text of which has been prepared by the Convention Secretariat) and a Commentary added by the Committee.

6.  We make this Report to the House for information.


1   Doc CONV 369/02. The text is printed at Appendix 2 to our Report The Future of Europe: Constitutional Treaty-Draft Articles 1-16 (9th Report, Session 2002-03, HL Paper 61). Back

2   See our Report The Future of Europe: Constitutional Treaty-Draft Articles on the Institutions, together with the Minutes of Evidence (21st Report, Session 2002-03, HL Paper 105). Back

3   Doc 650/03, at p 2. Back

4   For our earlier Reports in this series see The Future of Europe: Constitutional Treaty-Draft Articles 1-16 (9th Report, Session 2002-03, HL Paper 61), The Future of Europe: Constitutional Treaty-Draft Articles 24-33 (12th Report, Session 2002-03, HL Paper 71), The Future of Europe: Constitutional Treaty-Draft Article 31 and Draft Articles from Part 2 (Freedom, Security and Justice) (16th Report, Session 2002-03, HL Paper 81), and The Future of Europe: Constitutional Treaty-Draft Articles 43-46 (Union Membership) and General and Final Provisions (18th Report, Session 2002-03, HL Paper 93). Back

5   See Appendix 1 for membership of the European Union Committee, and of Sub-Committee E (Law and Institutions) which undertook the detailed scrutiny work. Back

6   The Convention document uses the term "Comments". Back


 
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