|Series Title||European Voice|
|Series Details||Vol 7, No.17, 26.4.01, p8|
THE Swedish presidency has warned that the forthcoming debate on the future of Europe must not be used to undermine what has already been achieved by the Union.
Swedish State Secretary Lars Danielsson said the discussions on the division of competences between EU institutions and national authorities "must not be an excuse to set back what the Union has already accomplished".
For example, he said, no one should see it as an opportunity to avoid control from the competition rules.
Although Union leaders had agreed to address the issue of competences in the conclusions of the Nice summit, Danielsson said he did not "think any member state has any illusions that it is going to be an easy exercise".
He added that there was also a risk that by drawing strict definitions of which tasks should be performed by which level of authority, the Union would limit its ability to act should it "barter away the tools [it] may need to face future challenges".
EU leaders agreed at Nice last December to address four subjects as part of preparations for the next Intergovernmental Conference (IGC), due to take place in 2004: a better definition of power sharing between the EU and member states; the status of the Charter of Fundamental Rights; simplification of the treaties to make them clearer and the role of national parliaments.
Sweden is drawing up a report on the state of the debate for the Göteborg summit in June. EU leaders are meant to agree on the methods and timetable for taking this process forward hosted by the Belgian presidency in December.
Danielsson stressed that the debate on the future of Europe should focus on issues that EU citizens care most about: "their jobs, their income, the safety of their food, criminality, challenges to the environment".
He argued that discussions should not get caught up in quibbles over terminology, citing the debate about whether the Union needed a fully-fledged constitution as divisive.
On whether the Union should establish a protocol to prepare for the IGC, Sweden's top EU official said that different methods would be needed because of the specialist nature of the exercise. "[A convention] would promote openness, transparency and broad commitment," he said, adding that the IGC would have to deal with many technical issues.
Polish Prime Minster Jerzy Buzek backed European Parliament calls a convention saying it would allow "many participants to take part in the discussions".
He also urged the Union to tackle the perceived lack of transparency. "Those irregularities are all the more threatening because they provide ammunition to opponents of further integration," he said.
The EU should also try to split the Union treaty into two and simplify them, Buzek said, so that there was a "constitutional part which was for everyone."
The Swedish presidency has warned that the forthcoming debate on the future of Europe must not be used to undermine what has already been achieved by the Union.
|Subject Categories||Politics and International Relations|