The European Union has never been a fixed entity. It has flourished in the post-war era through a dual process of adaptation and innovation in relation to the international environment. At the turn of the 21st century, the EU needs to face new challenges, most importantly globalisation and its own enlargement. This task was recognised by the EU Summit in Laeken, where the EU Heads of State or Government adopted a declaration on the future of the European Union:the Laeken Declaration. The Declaration recognised that the European Union “stands at a crossroads, a defining moment in its existence”. And that in this historical juncture, the EU “faces twin challenges, one within and the other beyond its borders”. To move forward the debate on these issues, the EU summit decided to establish a Convention to lead the debate on the future of the Union.
The Convention on the Future of Europe
The Convention is composed of representatives from the Governments and national parliaments of Member States, acceding states, and candidate countries, as well as from the Commission and the European Parliament.
The main questions that the Convention needs to explore are twofold. Regarding existing institutions, what it needs to consider is the simplification of the function of the EU. Whichever way this reform is thought out the main aim is always to ensure that the new Union is formed with greater democratic legitimacy, transparency, and efficiency. A possible culmination of these processes might be the adoption of a Constitution for European citizens that the Convention has already proposed. But these are not merely inward-looking measures. Besides, their internal dimension, these reforms also aim to enable the EU to live up to its increasingly globalised role, especially concerning the setting up of globalisation within a framework of solidarity and sustainable development.
The work of the Convention began in late February 2002. In the plenary session which was held on 28-29 October 2002 an initial debate on a preliminary draft Constitutional Treaty presented by the Convention Chairman was conducted. Click here to see the Chairman's preliminary draft Constitutional Treaty. The Convention meets in Brussels once or twice a month. Click here for the Convention's schedule for January-June 2003.
The Convention's operations are very much underway. Ten working groups have been already set in June 2002 with the task of examining specific issues (subsidiarity, European Charter of Human Rights, legal personality, the role of national parliaments, complementary competencies, economic governance, external action of the EU, defence, simplification of EU instruments and procedures, justice and home affairs, social Europe). Click here to read the working group’s reports.
The first in-depth discussion on the Convention's final proposals will take place during the Thessaloniki European Council. Then the debate moves to an intergovernmental conference.
Composition of the Convention
- Chairman (Valéry Giscard d’Estaing)
- Vice-chairmen (Guiliano Amato, Jean-Luc Dehaene)
- 1 representative of the Government of each Member State or acceding country or candidate country
- 2 representatives of the national parliament of each Member State, acceding state, and candidate country
- 16 members of the European Parliament
- 2 representatives of the European Commission
For more information about the Convention’s work and the debate about the EU’s future click the following links: