Government should admit that draft European constitution is federal, say pro-Europeans

19 June 2003

The draft constitution to be presented to the European summit in Thessaloniki today is a great step forward for the democracy and effectiveness of the European Union, according to Federal Union, the only British campaigning organisation that criticises the government for not being pro-European enough.

“The European Union has been a great success story over the past fifty years,” said Brendan Donnelly, chair of Federal Union. “We should not be shy about saying this.”

“But the government should tell the truth about this constitution. It is based on the continuation of existing arrangements, not a change in them. There has been no great victory for Peter Hain in the European convention.

“Every other country in Europe knows the truth about this constitution. It is time that the government admitted it in Britain too. Federalism is nothing to worry about.

“After all, this is the week in which the government has announced its plan to hold referendums for setting up regional assemblies in parts of England. All federalism means is government at different levels, where each level has a direct relationship with the citizen.

“By pretending that federalism is something bad, the government risks weakening British public support for Europe.”

“Peter Hain may have taken the word “federal” out of the introduction but he has not taken federalism out of the system. The EU works precisely because it is federal,” said Brendan Donnelly.

ends

Notes to editors

1. Federal Union is Britain’s campaign for a united and democratic Europe. It is the only campaigning organisation in this country which criticises the government for not being pro-European enough. It was founded in 1938. Its website is http://www.federalunion.org.uk. Download its media pack at mediapack.

2. For more details, contact Brendan Donnelly on 07956 379129 or Professor Stephen Haseler on 07801 721749.

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