Europe's Left still debating the EU constitution

5th May 2006, Comments 0 comments

ATHENS, May 5, 2006 (AFP) - One year after the French Left helped to sink a proposed European Union constitution in a national referendum, differences between Socialists on the issue have surfaced at the anti-capitalist European Social Forum convening here.

ATHENS, May 5, 2006 (AFP) - One year after the French Left helped to sink a proposed European Union constitution in a national referendum, differences between Socialists on the issue have surfaced at the anti-capitalist European Social Forum convening here.

During a debate at the left-wing, anti-globalisation assembly, Susan George, vice-president of the French branch of the anti-capitalist movement Attac, suggested it was too soon to draft a new constitution.

"What we must first do is fight to give Europe the material means to improve its social model, and to act as an environment of peace," she urged instead.

The draft constitution as presented to EU member-states last year was designed to give the EU the legal framework to cope with its expansion from 15 to 25 members.

But France and the Netherlands rejected it in referendums.

In the Athens discussion, French Socialist senator Jean-Luc Mélenchon disagreed with George, arguing in favour of launching a concrete counter-proposal on the constitution, and warning against "the same text that we chased out through the door coming back in through the window."

Italian and German delegates agreed with Mélenchon. But there was disagreement over how to proceed towards a new text.

German activist Miriam Buerger of the Young Democrats organisation argued in favour of electing an assembly to hammer out the text.

Italian Franco Russo — representing the Forum for a Democratic Constitution — said existing institutions were adequate, and suggested that the Left focus its energies on safeguarding the social content of the constitutional text.

The speakers also agreed that a new European constitution should enshrine the principle of opposition to war.

The European Social Forum, expected to attract more than 15,000 anti-capitalist and environmental activists from around the globe, opened on Thursday.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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