European Law Constitutional Law Term Paper

Excerpt from Term Paper :

European Union has brought with it both triumph and controversy. The purpose of this discussion is to investigate the details of the draft constitution.

In particular, this discussion will seek to Critically evaluate the extent to which the draft Constitution creates an institutional architecture that both sustainable for the future of Europe and achieves an appropriate inter-institutional balance. Let us begin our discussion with a brief overview of the European Union and the nations that are a part of the entity.

Overview of the European Union

According to a book entitled, The Expanding European Union: Past, Present, Future, the European Union was formed in 1957 with the participation of Italy, France, Germany, Luxembourg. Belgium, and the Netherlands. (Redman 1998) The union was originally referred to as the European Economic Community (EC). (Redman 1998) The book explains the "EC" gradually expanded and became the European Union. The author asserts,

Any European State may apply to become a member of the Community." Thus, the way was opened up for three enlargements of its membership to include Denmark, Ireland, and the United Kingdom in 1973, Greece in 1981, and Spain and Portugal in 1986. The fourth enlargement took place on 1 January 1995, under the provisions of Article 238 of the Treaty on European Union signed in Maastricht in February 1992. Accession by Austria, Finland, and Sweden took the EU to its current membership of fifteen states. (Redman 1998)

Although the European Union is currently composed of 15 countries, it is expected to expand even more in the years to come. (European Union at a Glance) Twelve of the nations in the European Union currently share the same currency, which makes travel simple. (European Union at a Glance)

Main aspects of the constitution

According to an article published by the BBC, several changes will take place under the constitution. The BBC reports that these changes include:

Division of Responsibilities-under the constitution the rights of the European Union will be expanded to include immigration and asylum. In addition, the constitution will eliminate the pillar structure, which allowed policies to come under both intergovernmental and European Union arrangements. (What the EU constitution says, 2004)

This simply means that the European Union will have broader control over life in Europe. (What the EU constitution says, 2004)

Qualified Majority Voting- under the constitution a system of Quality majority voting will be implemented. (What the EU constitution says, 2004) This means that a qualified majority consists of 55% of the Council and 65% of the population. (What the EU constitution says, 2004) Under this standard larger and smaller countries in the union will have fairer voting rights. Under the old system, smaller countries did not have the same amount of voting power. (What the EU constitution says, 2004)

Presidency- under the constitution the European Council will elect the president. (What the EU constitution says, 2004) The president's term will last for 2.5 years and he/she can serve a maximum of two terms. (What the EU constitution says, 2004) This new system is different form the old system in that the old system rotated presidents every six months. In addition, under the old system the president was chosen by the member state and not the European Council. (What the EU constitution says, 2004) The BBC explains that the new presidential position under the constitution will give the president more power. (What the EU constitution says, 2004)

Commission Reform-under the European Union Constitution there will be a national form every state that will act as commissioner. • (What the EU constitution says, 2004) After five years the Commission will be reduced to include around 18 members. (What the EU constitution says, 2004) This is being done because many feel that the smaller countries are often ignored. In addition, the current size of the commission is too large and must be reduced. (What the EU constitution says, 2004)

Supremacy of Law- under the constitution the laws of the Union will have precedence over the law of the member states. When there are laws that have not been defined by the European Union the law of the member state will be used. This will allow the European Union to engage in international agreements. (What the EU constitution says, 2004)

Exiting the European Union - under the constitution member that want to exit the union will have to appear at a hearing. (What the EU constitution says, 2004)

The EU may attempt to negotiate their stay but ultimately the state will have the ability to leave if it so desires. (What the EU constitution says, 2004) Under the old system states, wanting to exit simply had to make a request to do so. (What the EU constitution says, 2004)

Foreign Policy-under the EU constitution the Union has the authority to implement and dictate foreign policy measures. (What the EU constitution says, 2004) Under the old system, there was not necessarily a consensus on foreign policy amongst the member states. (What the EU constitution says, 2004)

Indeed, the constitution has the potential drastically change Europe and the European community, as we know it. According to an article in the Washington Times, The other changes include, the appointment of a single EU foreign policy minister; new limits on the right of individual countries or small groups to veto EU decisions; increased power for the directly elected European Parliament; and greater authority for the European Union to act in such areas as energy policy, immigration, transportation and cross-border crime. (EU's Draft Constitution Sets Up Raucous Debate, 2003)

Opponents of the Constitution

There are many complaints surfacing concerning the constitution and the regulations that it brings. Many feel that the Union will have too much power, while others feel that it is a step in the right direction for the entire continent of Europe and the world. In any case, the constitution does grant the European Union with much of the authority that was once only exercised by the individual member states. Over the next few paragraphs, the discussion will explore the criticisms of the constitution.

Indeed, the draft constitution of the European Union brought with it controversy and skepticism. The draft constitution was written between February of 2003 and July of 2003. (Lucier 2003) An article found in the magazine Insight on the News explains that the new constitution would finally create a centralized superstate, which many in the Union have sought for fifty years. (Lucier 2003) The article asserts that the draft constitution has been controversial because,

Critics have charged that the delegates who prepared the document had no mandate to do so, but that the suggestion of a constitution "was rapidly seized upon... without any study of either the alternatives or the long-term consequences of such an act," according to a minority report. Until now the EU was a creature of four multilateral treaties, and never had what the international lawyers call "a legal personality." But if this constitution is adopted (and its proponents hope it will be signed by May 2004), it will be a legal personality on steroids. (Lucier 2003)

The article goes on to explain that some of the delegates to the Convention on the Future of Europe vehemently oppose some aspects of the constitution. The article contends that their opposition to the constitution is because the constitution takes a great deal of the decision-making power away from the member states and gives the power to the European Union. (Lucier 2003)

The author explains that the decision-making abilities that the Union will have under the constitution is related to criminal justice and certain areas of domestic policy. (Lucier 2003) Those that oppose the constitution believe that the ability of the union to make these decisions will create a government that is out of touch with the will of the people. (Lucier 2003)

Those that oppose the constitution also have other problems associated with the powers given to the Union under the constitution. The article contends that The constitution gives more power to all the existing EU institutions and creates a Europe of presidents, with more jobs for politicians and less influence for the people." Complaining that the constitution concentrates more executive and budgetary power in the very institutions that have been unable in recent years to produce a verifiable audit of expenditures, the minority concludes that the constitution "creates a new centralized European state, more powerful, more remote, with more politicians, more bureaucracy and a wider gap between the rulers and the ruled." (Lucier 2003)

Another article found in the Washington Times contends that those that oppose the constitution are also fearful of the constitutions view of religion. The constitution seems to aim to leave out historical information pertaining to the role of Christianity in European society. (EU's Draft Constitution Sets Up Raucous Debate, 2003) The article reports that The first words of the draft provoked one of the first controversies, as spokesmen for both the Roman Catholic Church and the Greek Orthodox Church condemned the omission of any…

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