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The traditional meeting of the delegation in conjunction with the European Parliament plenary session was a stormy affair. Noting that amendments to the draft articles for Titles I, II and III of the future Treaty had to be tabled by February 14, Inigo Mendez de Vigo rejected straight away all group amendments by fellow Members, "to keep from frightening" the other parties to the Convention, representatives of governments and national Parliaments. "I am very disappointed that our representatives in the Praesidium are refusing joint amendments," declared Anne van Lancker (PES, Belgium). "We cannot be afraid of our own shadow. Let's defend what we have to defend," added Pervenche Beres (PES, France), expressing concern over the lack of a clause between Title III on competences, contained in the first part of the Treaty, and the definition of policies that will be covered by the second part. "That is the heart of the matter," she maintained, with the backing of Andrew Duff (ELDR, United Kingdom), who was said to want "more detail" in the presentation of competences through a more explicit reference to common policies. Reinhard Rack (EPP, Germany) mentioned Article 14 on the Common Foreign and Security Policy, which "does not list the competences already shared in this area". Neil MacCormick (Greens, United Kingdom) said it was disproportionate to include as an exclusive competence the conservation of marine biological resources when others that seem far more important - like the Internal Market - are relegated to the level of shared competences.

Mrs Beres also criticised Title II on citizenship and fundamental rights, arguing that its articles pick and choose among the fundamental rights contained in the Charter, which is not a promise of clear integration as a part of the Constitution but possibly as a mere Protocol. This criticism was taken up and extended to Title I by Elena Paciotti (PES, Italy), who argues that articles 2 (values) and 3 (objectives) echo certain Charter provision but ignore others. Carlos Carnero (PES, Spain) described this as "a step backwards". Hanja Maij-Weggen (EPP, Netherlands) meanwhile regretted the withdrawal from article 1 of the reference to "an ever closer Union" and expressed surprise that article 6 on non discrimination was not reserved solely for EU citizens.

Mrs Maij-Weggen and Mr Rack nevertheless consider that overall, the draft articles reflect the European Parliament's Resolutions, a view shared by Teresa Almeida-Garrett (EPP, Portugal) and, with reservations, by Helle Thorning-Schmidt (PES, Denmark), who regards them as "a good basis for discussion", provided a number of unfortunate formulas in certain linguistic versions are reviewed.

Klaus Hansch insisted "we are not alone on the Praesidium where we have defended Parliament's point of view", though he added "these articles are the fruit of a compromise with the other components" of the Praesidium, pointing by way of example to the internal market. "We were alone in seeking to establish it as an exclusive competence, but did at least succeed in establishing the four freedoms as an exclusive competence". Responding more specifically to Maria Berger (PES, Austria), who is insisting on the inclusion of the Euratom Treaty in the future Constitutional Treaty, Mr Hansch suggested this does not raise any legal problems "since a solution could stem from the principle of legal personality and the simplification of the Treaties". He suggested that Euratom might be included in the second part as a common policy, but acknowledged this raises political questions. "Many Member States fear that if Euratom were to be integrated in the Treaty, public opinion would establish a link on ratification between Nuclear energy and the Constitution". One needs to weigh up the fact that, once established as a common policy, nuclear energy would gain a constitutional value, a development that all are not prepared to conceive, according to Mr Hansch.
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Title Annotation:Members of the European Parliament engage in contentious debate
Publication:European Report
Geographic Code:4E
Date:Feb 12, 2003

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