La guerre européenne des grands et des petitsEurope's War of Big and Small

Le débat sur les propositions d'une nouvelle Constitution pour l'Union Européenne, qui entre désormais dans sa phase finale dans la soi-disant « Convention européenne », tourne à la lutte de pouvoir entre les états membres qui envisagent différemment le futur de l'Union. Autrefois, les débats se déroulaient généralement entre les fédéralistes, qui prônaient une UE plus forte, et les inter gouvernementalistes, qui cherchaient à préserver l'autonomie nationale des états membres. Cette situation reste vraie à l'heure actuelle. Mais le débat est faussé par une lutte secondaire entre les grands et les petits pays de l'UE, avec des résultats parfois paradoxaux.

La question à l'ordre du jour porte sur la gestion du Conseil européen des ministres. Le Conseil se réunit sous la présidence d'un état membre individuel pendant une période de six mois, après quoi la présidence revient à un autre état membre. La France et l'Allemagne soutiennent que ce système de rotation est imparfait, en partie en raison de sa discontinuité, et ont proposé que le Conseil nomme un président permanent à plein temps pour une durée de cinq ans. Leur proposition a été catégoriquement rejetée par 16 états existants ou futurs états membres, tous des petits pays, qui ont insisté sur le fait que le principe de la rotation devait être maintenu en tant que symbole de l'égalité entre tous les états membres.

Les enjeux sur cette question sont montés de deux crans. Valéry Giscard d'Estaing, le président de la Convention, a officiellement approuvé la proposition franco-allemande. Le même jour, la Commission européenne a riposté en critiquant vigoureusement la proposition, affirmant qu'elle créerait des bureaucraties rivales ainsi qu'un sentiment de confusion.

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