EU Parliament adopts Constitution

By EDRi · January 12, 2005

Members of the European Parliament have voted in favour of the EU’s
constitution today (12 January 2005), with a 500 to 137 majority (40
abstentions), setting the EU on a path toward more integration and a
little bit more democracy. In the afternoon, the Constitution was
celebrated with concerts, balloons and a festive debate involving
Parliament President Josep Borrell and author Jeremy Rifkin. While the
general tendency of the Constitution, as compared to present practice, is
widely welcomed, critics say democratic standards in the Constitution are
still far from being satisfactory and there is an inherent risk that the
Constitution will freeze this situation for a long time. The vote is seen
as being a blow to Constitution opponents in such countries as the UK and
France, where the prognosed “no” vote in EU Constitution referenda is
steadily rising.

Luxembourg PM Jean-Claude Juncker, in his first speech as the president of
the EU Council, warned the referenda could ‘bog down’ the EU, due to the
tempation to delay ‘sensitive decisions’ until after the votes have taken

Part II of the Constitution is the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the
European Union, which contains many of the fundamental freedoms that EDRI
fights for, including the protection of personal data, the freedom of
expression, access to services of general interest, right of access to
documents, and so on. This will be the first time that these rights will
become actionable at an EU level. Nevertheless, in the European Parliament
it was opposed by the left-wing GUE Group on accusations that it did not
contain sufficient social safeguards, by far-right groups, by the
euro-sceptic ID group, the UK conservatives and the Czech ODS party, who
in unison claimed it gave too much power to Brussels.

In order to become effective, the Constitution needs to be ratified in all
25 member states. This process has already started in Lithuania and
Hungary, where the Constitution found majorities, and is expected to last
until the end of 2006. Referenda will start this February in Spain;
difficulties are expected in Denmark, France, Britain, Poland, the
Netherlands and the Czech Republic.

EU Official Journal: Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe

(Contribution by Andreas Dietl, EDRI EU Affairs Director)