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Friday, 7 February, 2003, 12:25 GMT
EU constitution under fire
Valery Giscard D'Estaing
Giscard: Accused of imposing his views
The first draft of a future European Union constitution has run into sharp criticism, just hours after its release.

This track will lead us to a deeper level of integration than in the United States

Jens-Peter Bonde
Danish MEP
The first 16 articles of the draft were unveiled on Thursday by a special forum, the Convention on the Future of Europe.

The UK Government was one of the first to call for changes to the draft, raising concerns about use of the word "federal" and suggestions that the EU would have powers to control foreign and economic policy.

The BBC's William Horsley says the draft reflects the wish of Germany and some other states for the EU to act much more like a single state with a single government.

Eurosceptics also attacked the draft, which demonstrates what they see as a drift towards statehood.

"This is a one-way street to an EU state," Reuters news agency quoted Danish MEP Jens-Peter Bonde as saying.

"This track will lead us to a deeper level of integration than in the United States."

June deadline

The agency said Mr Bonde accused the president of the convention, Valery Giscard d'Estaing, of trying to ensure his views prevailed in the final draft.

CONVENTION REPRESENTATIVES
National governments and parliaments
European Commission
European parliament
13 candidate countries
Non-governmental organisations and academia
Peter Hain, who is one of the UK representatives at the convention, said the British Government was disappointed by the inclusion of the word "federal" in article 1 of the draft.

But he said there was "absolutely no chance" of a federal superstate being set up in Brussels.

Mr Giscard D'Estaing defended the draft, saying it set out clearly the values, aims and powers of the EU despite time limitations.

The 16 articles include the following :

  • 1: The constitution establishes a union within which policies of member states will be co-ordinated , and which shall administer certain common competences on a federal basis. The union will respect the national identities of those states
  • 2: The Union is founded on values of respect for human dignity, liberty, democracy, the rule of law and respect for human rights

  • 9: The constitution shall have primacy over the law of the member states

  • 13: The union shall co-ordinate the economic policies of the member states

  • 14: Member states shall support the union's common foreign and security policy and shall refrain from action contrary to the union's interests or likely to undermine its effectiveness.

Members of the forum have until17 February to propose amendments to the text drafted by the convention's presidium.

A final draft will be presented to the 15 EU governments by late June.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Stephen Sackur
"There's widespread agreement the EU needs constitutional reform"

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06 Feb 03 | Europe
07 Feb 03 | Politics
03 May 02 | Europe
02 Dec 02 | Europe
18 Feb 03 | Politics
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