A Turning Point for Europe's Constitution

For the past several weeks, attention was focused on the war in Iraq and on the fault lines within Europe that the conflict exposed. But at the same time--perhaps because no one was looking--a critical breakthrough occurred in the Convention for the Future of Europe, where the European Union's new constitution is being framed.

Representatives of 16 countries--Austria, Ireland, Portugal, the three Scandinavian countries, and the ten states that will join the EU in May 2004--submitted a proposal, in the form of a declaration, that calls for preserving the EU's current delicate institutional balance. They recommend retaining the European Commission as the proto-executive branch, the European Council to speak for national interests, and the European Parliament as the institution that represents Europe's citizens directly. They reaffirm member states' equality by defending the Council's rotating presidency.

But, in addition to avoiding destructive changes, the proposal suggests a way forward for the Convention. Specifically, it recommends a way to strengthen the democratic legitimacy of the Commission by allowing its president to be elected either by the Parliament or by an electoral college that also includes representatives from national parliaments.

To continue reading, please log in or enter your email address.

Registration is quick and easy and requires only your email address. If you already have an account with us, please log in. Or subscribe now for unlimited access.


Log in

  1. China corruption Isaac Lawrence/Getty Images

    The Next Battle in China’s War on Corruption

    • Chinese President Xi Jinping knows well the threat that corruption poses to the authority of the Communist Party of China and the state it controls. 
    • But moving beyond Xi's anti-corruption purge to build robust and lasting anti-graft institutions will not be easy, owing to enduring opportunities for bureaucratic capture.
  2. Italy unemployed demonstration SalvatoreEsposito/Barcroftimages / Barcroft Media via Getty Images

    Putting Europe’s Long-Term Unemployed Back to Work

    Across the European Union, millions of people who are willing and able to work have been unemployed for a year or longer, at great cost to social cohesion and political stability. If the EU is serious about stopping the rise of populism, it will need to do more to ensure that labor markets are working for everyone.

  3. Latin America market Federico Parra/Getty Images

    A Belt and Road for the Americas?

    In a time of global uncertainty, a vision of “made in the Americas” prosperity provides a unifying agenda for the continent. If implemented, the US could reassert its historical leadership among a group of countries that share its fundamental values, as well as an interest in inclusive economic growth and rising living standards.

  4. Startup office Mladlen Antonov/Getty Images

    How Best to Promote Research and Development

    Clearly, there is something appealing about a start-up-based innovation strategy: it feels democratic, accessible, and so California. But it is definitely not the only way to boost research and development, or even the main way, and it is certainly not the way most major innovations in the US came about during the twentieth century.

  5. Trump Trade speech Bill Pugliano/Getty Images .

    Preparing for the Trump Trade Wars

    In the first 11 months of his presidency, Donald Trump has failed to back up his words – or tweets – with action on a variety of fronts. But the rest of the world's governments, and particularly those in Asia and Europe, would be mistaken to assume that he won't follow through on his promised "America First" trade agenda.