Solutions to the current constitutional impasse in the European Union: the ‘Reduced Treaty’ option

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Series Details No 16, 7 May 2007
Publication Date 07/05/2007
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Almost two years after the referendums in France (29 May 2005) and the Netherlands (1 June 2005), the European Union (EU) is still in a state of confusion. We could continue to pontificate about whether or not a genuine crisis exists. Unfortunately, however, the time for reflection is over, and the moment has come for the constitutional question to be tackled head on. Over the next few months we must try to find a definitive way out of the constitutional labyrinth in which we are currently lost (see Araceli Mangas, ‘El rescate del Tratado Constitucional: qué y cómo se puede salvar’, ARI 17/2007).

In this regard, the Berlin Declaration of 25 March 2007 to mark the 50th anniversary of the Treaties of Rome was effectively the first time we could take the European patient’s temperature. And yet this important Declaration makes no specific reference to the Constitutional Treaty (CT). All that it contains is a statement in the final paragraph which notes that 50 years on ‘we are united in our aim of placing the European Union on a renewed common basis before the European Parliament elections in 2009’. That said, although it does not expressly mention the CT, it is clear that the effort of giving the Union a ‘renewed common basis’ refers to the need to find a solution to the current constitutional impasse, while still leaving open the question of how this is to be done. In fact, the positions taken by the different Member States still differ widely, and the possibility of the negotiations on the new Treaty being based on the Treaty of Nice rather than the CT is a distinct possibility. However, the Declaration does establish when –the chosen solution must be ready before the European Parliament elections in June 2009–. This commitment will clearly have an impact on the calendar of events and probably also on how ambitious the content of the new Treaty will be.

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