Today in Rome the draft of EU Constitution was signed by EU members and candidates. The treaty is the result of 28 months of debate between the 25 EU governments and now faces ratification in national parliaments. At least nine EU nations also plan to put it to a referendum.
Ratification by all 25 EU members is expected to be a protracted affair, with countries setting their own timetables. But they must ratify it within two years – before Bulgaria and Romania join as planned in 2007.
Here are some of the key points of the Constitution:
– It establish the role and responsability of each EU Institution. In addition it also creates the position of a European Council President. The president would be elected by the Council — the heads of state or government of the member states — for a 2.5 year re-newable term. The European Commission would also be streamlined
– The constitution also creates an office of the European Union Foreign Minister aiming to a common foreign policy but states must agree foreign policy unanimously.
– One key point of the constitution is that it eliminates current veto rights in broad policy areas and replaces them with qualified majority votes. It would require that a majority of EU member states vote in favor of a law and that those votes represent 60 percent of the entire EU population.
– The constitution further strengthens the European Parliament by providing it with a “co-decision with the Council of Ministers,” or vote, on most future laws important to the EU.
– In an effort to fight cross-border crime in the EU, the constitution also would create a European Public Prosecutor Office.
– For the first time, the constitution would also lay out the process by which a country could leave the European Union.
You can find the PDF (752Kb) Draft Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe or you can view the HTML version here.