Campaign briefing: The European Constitutional Convention

The launch of the European Constitutional Convention on 28 February 2002 has started an important new phase in the development of the European Union. For the first time, debate about the future of Europe will be taken out of the hands of the national governments and entrusted to a wider assembly.

This briefing outlines the key Federal Union demands for the convention to discuss and agree, and lists the British members of the convention who will be meeting to discuss and agree them. Please write to the convention members and ask them to consider the case for parliamentary democracy in Europe.

Aim of the campaign

The purpose of the campaign is to encourage British members of the convention to argue for a strengthened system of parliamentary democracy within the European Union. After all, many of the principles of parliamentary democracy were first developed in the United Kingdom. It makes sense for the British to lead the argument for their adoption by the EU as a whole.

The main changes that are needed to the current system of European treaties are outlined in 12 points here. The key reforms are:

  • to give the European Parliament the right to co-decide all the laws and the budget, instead of just half of them;
  • to give the Commission adequate executive power, with full accountability to the Parliament and Council; and
  • to make the Council a more normal house of the states, holding its legislative sessions in public, generally voting by weighted majority, and with its executive role confined to those, mainly security-related matters that are not now within the Commission’s fields of competence.

These reforms would go far to apply to the Union the principles of representative government.

British members of the Convention

Each EU member state is entitled to one representative from the national government and two from the national parliament. Each representative has an alternate. In addition to these national representatives, there are three British members of the delegation from the European Parliament and two British alternates. Lastly, one of the observers from the Economic and Social Committee is also British, making 12 in total.

Government:

Rt Hon Peter Hain MP, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, King Charles Street, London SW1A 2AH
Baroness Scotland of Asthal, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, King Charles Street, London SW1A 2AH

National parliament:

Gisela Stuart MP, House of Commons, London SW1A 0AA
Rt Hon David Heathcoat-Amory MP, House of Commons, London SW1A 0AA
Lord Tomlinson, House of Lords, London SW1A 0PW
Lord Maclennan of Rogart, House of Lords, London SW1A 0PW

European Parliament:

Andrew Duff MEP, Orwell House, Cowley Road, Cambridge CB4 0PP
Timothy Kirkhope MEP, 7 Dewar Close, Collingham, Wetherby, West Yorkshire LS22 5JR
Linda McAvan MEP, 79 High Street, Wath-upon-Dearne S63 7QB
The Earl of Stockton MEP, South West Region European Office, 5 Westfield Park, Redland, Bristol BS6 6LT
Professor Sir Neil MacCormick MEP, 6 North Charlotte Street, Edinburgh EH2 4JH

ECOSOC:

John Little, 8 Wateryett Loan, Strathaven ML10 6EJ

Observers are in italics.

To get more information

Federal Union has published a wide range of briefing materials on the website. You can find the most important ones here.

In addition, the Union of European Federalists, of which Federal Union is the UK section, publishes a regular Federalist Letter, analysing and commenting on the debates in the convention. This newsletter is circulated by e-mail – to join its mailing list, send an e-mail to info@federalunion.org.uk.

The Young European Federalists (JEF) produces a regular e-mail briefing with facts and quotes about the convention. You can join mailing list for this by visiting www.constitutional-convention.net.

About the Author