The Convention on the Future of Europe adopted a draft Constitutional Treaty for the European Union in July 2003. This proposal is currently being discussed by the Heads of State in the Intergovernmental Conference.Civil society, mobilized with the trade unions and with Parliamentarians, did not achieve all they wanted in the draft, however on balance the proposed Constitution is a step forward and should be supported. In particular we achieved a greater weighting of social and environmental governance in relation to the economic, the mainstreaming of equality between women and men, an anti-discrimination clause, the inclusion of the Charter of Fundamental Rights, children’s rights and strong articles on the Values and Objectives of the Union.
In terms of development cooperation too some positive results were obtained. Poverty eradication will be one of the Objectives of the EU and there will be a strong legal base of the Union’s development cooperation, humanitarian assistance and cooperation with other third countries. Important steps were also taken to strengthen the coherence between the Union’s policies with its development objectives.However there remains a concern that development and humanitarian aid may be subordinated to the EU’s foreign policy and security concerns.
The Constitution’s implementing text was not sufficiently discussed by the Convention. Its language is in part 50 years old and often in contradiction to the new text. Civil society believes that there should an easier mechanism to alter this text in the future than by having another Intergovernmental Conference.The Convention was an open process with civil society and the trade unions being able to make an input and be heard. We were able to strengthen the text. Now it is up to the IGC to make sure that they maintain an open process with civil society.
The Intergovernmental Conference should adopt a Constitutional Treaty that establishes a Responsible Europe:
Development co-operation and humanitarian aid must not be subordinated to EU foreign, security or commercial policy agendas.
A Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid should be of equal status with all other Commissioners and be supported by a Directorate General within the Commission.
Trade policy should not be defined as an end in itself.The Inter Governmental Conference should be open and transparent, in order to encourage public debate and a broad participation of civil society at both national and European levels.
Civil society needs to get engaged, especially at the level of the European member states, to include the key demands for a responsible Europe into the European Constitution.NGOs from all sectors of civil society (development, social human rights and environment) should set up structures in each European member state and work together with the Act4Europe campaign.The time to act is now.