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The European Republic

Policy Proposals for a Future Constitution

C·A·P Working Paper, München 10/2003

Von Stefan Collignon

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01.10.2003 · Bertelsmann Forschungsgruppe Politik

"The European Republic - Policy Proposals for a Future Constitution" von Stefan Collignon ist ein "Denkbeitrag" zur Europäischen Verfassungsdebatte aus dem gemeinsam vom Centrum für angewandte Politikforschung (C·A·P) und der Bertelsmann Stiftung getragenen Projekt Folgefragen des Euro.

Das vorliegende Policy Paper beruht auf der von Bertelsmann Stiftung und Federal Trust herausgegebenen Studie gleichen Namens. Collignon verbindet in der Studie seine Theorie der öffentlichen Güter mit den praktischen Erfordernissen der Europäischen Verfassung.

Zentrale Aussagen und Forderungen

1. The changing international and European context requires that a European Constitution creates efficient structures for the governance of European collective policy goods.

2. Voluntary cooperation and coordination between autonomous governments is unlikely to provide European citizens with the collective goods they desire because of the so-called "collective action problem". Only a limited range of inclusive goods with network externalities will be supplied by this approach.

3. The principle of subsidiarity and the enlargement of the European Union are likely to exacerbate this problem.

4. The solution is more centralisation and conferral of European policy-making to the EU-level. But this can only be justified if a European Government (i.e. the Commission) is fully accountable to European Citizens - rather than governments. Hence, the Commission must be elected by the European Parliament alone. Efficiency and legitimacy go together.

5. A desired side-effect of the creation a European Government is the politicisation of policy debates that will help to create a pan-European policy consensus. Hence, decision-making will become more efficient, as national governments are less likely to hold up the legislative process.

6. These changes are of particular relevance for the economic governance of European Monetary Union, as stabilisation policies are clearly a matter for centralisation. The Commission must take over the responsibility of defining European policies. Citizens must have the right to sanction the Commission if it does not reflect their preferences. National governments (or the European Council) cannot fulfil this function as they are not accountable to the European constituency as a whole. A final remark applies to the ratification of the Constitution.

7. Given that constitutional consensus is the most important foundation for efficient European policy-making, the ratification procedures must support the emergence of such consensus. Several models are imaginable.

(1) The ratification of the European Constitution can be submitted to national referenda. But if votes are only counted at the level of member state constituencies, as has been customary in previous EU-treaty referenda (Denmark, France, Ireland, UK), this method re-enforces the communitarian honey-comb logic. The European Union will be perceived as belonging to member-states, rather than to its citizens.

(2) Alternatively, the constitution could come into force after a pan-European referendum has approved it. The Constitution would automatically become valid in countries that have approved it. If this is in contradiction to national constitutions, parliamentary ratification procedures would follow after the pan-European referendum. If the population of a specific country does not vote in favour of the new constitution, it should have the right to participate nevertheless, if a minimum threshold of EU member states is reached, or to opt out. Of course, this requires appropriate procedures to deal with the opt-outs.

(3) Another option would be ratification of the constitution by a European Congress, consisting of an equal number of national and European parliamentarians. This solution gives national parliaments a greater say in important European policy decisions. However, the drawback of this method is that it does not necessarily mobilize cross-border public debate, deliberation and commitment, unless it is linked to a major election, say of the European Parliament. Also, given that this method may be incompatible with national constitutions, it may have to be reserved for constitutional amendments after the new constitution has been ratified.

Non-ratification of the Constitution should be treated as a voluntary withdrawal from the Union.

Der Autor

Stefan Collignon ist Professor of European Political Economy am European Institute der London School of Economics and Political Science. Der Autor ist Gutachter im Rahmen des Projekts "Folgefragen des Euro" und hat "The European Republic" im Auftrag der Bertelsmann Stiftung verfasst.

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