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: PROGRESS REPORT ON THE DRAFT
CONSTITUTIONAL TREATY AND THE IGC
1. The Convention on the Future of Europe
has produced and submitted to the European Council a draft constitutional
which will provide the basis for discussions at the Inter-Governmental
Conference (IGC) later this year. Any Treaty emerging from the
IGC will need to be agreed unanimously before being presented
to Member States for ratification in accordance with their respective
2. Our Committee
has been keeping the work of the Convention under review and a
list of our previous reports on the Convention is printed in Appendix
3. The purpose of this Report is to inform the House
of how the Committee intends to scrutinise the draft constitutional
Treaty as it proceeds through the IGC.
4. The IGC is expected to begin in early 15 October.
How long the negotiations will then take is unclear but we intend
to ensure that the results of our deliberations on the draft Treaty
are made available as early in the process as possible.
5. We have, however, decided to ensure that, in completing
our work, we can take account of the following:
- A possible Government White Paper expected in
- The Commission's response to the Convention and
submission to the IGC, also expected in September;
- The House's own debate on the Convention on 9
6. We accordingly make this report for debate,
and recommend that such debate takes place jointly with that on
the Government's motion on 9 September. We make this progress
report to the House now so that Members and outside bodies and
individuals are aware of our work. We accordingly welcome evidence
to help us with our final report. Evidence should be submitted
in writing by 10th September.
7. The Committee also intends to scrutinise the work
of the IGC as it unfolds. To this end we recommend that the
Government publicises its strategy for keeping Parliament informed
of the work of IGC (to include both written reports to both Houses
and proceedings on the floor, including statements and debates).
The Government is also working to present the draft constitutional
Treaty to the public and should do more to make known the content
and effect of the Treaty.
8. The substantive purpose of this report is to show
what questions the Committee will be considering over the next
couple of months. These are as follows.
The proposed constitutional Treaty: a super state?
9. The Committee will press HMG to provide Parliament
with a comprehensive written analysis of how the proposed constitutional
treaty differs from the existing EU treaties which it replaces;
and in particular how far the Treaty would extend QMV.
10. What will be the significant improvements? In
the other direction, where are the "thick redlines"
that HMG should not cross? In particular should more decisions
on CFSP be taken by QMV?
11. Where the national veto remains, is it in fact
realistic that one Member State would seek to frustrate the common
will of the other 24?
12. What will be the future position of the various
existing national "opt-outs" under the draft Treaty?
13. How far does the draft Treaty represent an increase
in the powers of the European Parliament? Are these developments
compatible with the current inter-institutional balance? Should
corresponding provisions be made for national parliaments to scrutinise
decisions by their own governments where the EP and Council will
be acting together under the co-decision procedure?
14. What are the most significant reservations that
other Member States have about the draft Treaty?
15. What in practice will be the significance of
the proposed "exit clause" in Article I-59?
16. What will be the effect of the incorporation
of the Charter of Fundamental Rights into the Treaty?
17. What will be the role of the European Court of
Justice under the draft Treaty? What will be the effect of the
Treaty on relations between the Court and national constitutional
18. What role will there be for the proposed non-voting
Commissioners? How will an EU of 25 be able to function until
the proposed changes to the Commission take effect in 2009?
19. HMG has supported the post of President of the
European Council. What will be the functions of the post? What
kind of person will be eligible to hold it? How will the post
be filled and will that process be transparent and accountable?
20. To what extent should the proposed Minister for
Foreign Affairs have the right of initiative on defence?
21. How is the proposed Legislative Council intended
to operate? Will it be any more than a rubber stamp? How will
open and accountable discussion of policy be secured? What records
of deliberations should be made publicly available?
A more comprehensible Union?
22. How far does the draft Treaty satisfy the Laeken
mandate in particular by making the EU more accountable and comprehensible
to the citizens? How will this vast and complex document be presented
so that it can be digested by the media and the public?
National Parliamentary Scrutiny
23. Do proposals giving national parliaments a "yellow
card" procedure on subsidiarity go far enough? Should these
be strengthened at the IGC? What rights should our national parliament
have to bring actions before the Court?
24. What status should the Treaty give to national
parliamentary scrutiny reserves? How could the requirements for
national parliaments to have adequate time and proper information
for scrutiny be better met than at present?
25. Do the proposals for national parliamentary scrutiny
of foreign affairs and defence go far enough and if not what should
be done to enhance them?
1 www.european-convention.eu.int Back
The versions of Treaty on the Convention's website are being updated
as the final text appears. Back
Our members are listed in Appendix 1. Back