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Informal European Council: Summary of Speech by the President of the European Parliament Pat Cox, 16/4/03

“The recipe of the Convention has been a success,” European Parliament President Pat Cox told the informal European Council while presenting the positions of the Parliament regarding the items on the agenda.

Referring to the proposal for the instituting of the post of ‘President of the Union’, Cox noted that questions had arisen regarding the democratic accountability and role of the President as leader of the Union internally and its representative in external affairs.

On the composition of the Commission, Cox welcomed the idea of electing the President of the Commission and having the Commission as a whole approved by the European Parliament. He noted that “public opinion demands that Commissioners from all Member States sit round the table”.

Turning to the proposal concerning the post of ‘EU Foreign Minister’, Cox stressed that the European Parliament was in favour of the merging of overlapping roles “but not confusion”. He said this would presuppose the expression of the political will of the Member States, so that there could be a foreign minister capable of exercising foreign policy.

As far as the decision-making process is concerned, Cox said the European Parliament was in favour of the system of ‘double majority’ (the taking of decisions by a simple majority of Member States representing the majority of the population of the Union).

On the proposal for the establishment of a Congress of national members of parliament and European Parliament members, Cox said he favoured the continuation of the present system provided it functioned as an “unbroken chain of democratic control”, that is, as long as national parliaments kept their respective governments in check, the European Parliament kept the Commission in check, legislated jointly with the Council and decided on the budget.

Lastly, Cox underlined the need to stick to the timetable set for the European Convention and the revision of the Treaty, that is, the conclusion of the work of the Convention by 30 June and of the work of the Intergovernmental Conference “well before European elections in 2004”.

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