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Europe's New Dawn

Today in Rome, the heads of state and government of the EU's 25 member states will sign the Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe. We have come a long way since the six founding members formed the European Economic Community back in March 1957 - also in Rome.

After the Treaty is signed, it will go before the national parliaments for approval. So it is crucially important to understand why the Treaty deserves to be ratified. Simply put, it places the interests of Europe's citizens more than ever at the heart of the European Union's activities. It does so in four ways.

First, the Constitutional Treaty guarantees that the Union's institutions will respect the fundamental rights of everyone within the EU. The "catalogue of fundamental rights" included in the Constitution is extensive, centering on respect for human dignity, freedom, and equality, and also on the principles of democracy and the rule of law. By enshrining them in the Constitution, these fundamental rights and principles become legally binding, and citizens will have greater scope for bringing appeals to the Court of Justice. In this respect, the EU leads the world in the protection of fundamental rights.

Second, the Treaty makes the EU more democratic and brings government closer to Europe's citizens. The Union has no business interfering in matters that can be dealt with successfully at the local, regional, or national level. The EU's objectives are precisely those that countries are unable to achieve on their own, for example, a stronger economy and greater security.