Expatica news

EU Constitution ‘gives security, peace, justice’

29 October 2004

AMSTERDAM — EU President and Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende praised the historic signing of the European Constitution Friday as a means to make the continent “more secure, more prosperous and more just”.

EU heads of state and government and foreign ministers signed the Treaty and Final Act establishing a constitution for Europe at a special Rome ceremony held at the Campidoglio, where the original Treaty of Rome was signed in 1957.

“This Constitution gives us greater capacity for making Europe more secure, more prosperous and more just. We must work together to make full use of this capacity. Our task is not yet done,” Balkenende said.

The Dutch prime minister also said “Europe is no longer a place where might makes right” and that the constitution instead strengthens Europeans’ belief in peace, security and prosperity, the Dutch EU presidency’s website, www.eu2004.nl, said.

The constitution aims to make the EU function more smoothly and create a full-time president overseeing co-operation between member states. The post of a foreign minister will also be created. Member nations must still ratify the document, either by referendum or parliamentary vote.

Meanwhile, Balkenende and incoming EC President Jose Manuel Barroso met on Thursday night to discuss a resolution to the crisis centring on the appointment of a new European Commission.

Balkenende and Barroso met over dinner after Barroso withdrew his motion Wednesday seeking the European Parliament’s approval for his new commission, which is meant to start work on 1 November.

Political sources said Barroso gave Balkenende an analysis of the events of the past week and the two men explored and discussed a possible resolution to the crisis, newspaper De Volkskrant reported.

The sticking point was candidate justice commissioner, Italian Rocco Buttiglione, who has been severely criticised by MEPs for voicing controversial views on gay people and women. But Barroso is reportedly considering replacing several other candidate commissioners.

The Dutch candidate commissioner for the competition portfolio, Neelie Kroes, could thus be placed under renewed pressure. Concern has been raised over possible conflicts of interest due to her strong links to the international business community.

The Dutch government had initially worked on organising an emergency summit about the crisis for Thursday. But by early Wednesday afternoon, Dutch officials indicated there would be no snap meeting of EU leaders.

The expectation was that the signing of the EU Constitution would also be used to hold talks about the formation of a new EC. Government leaders were expected to hold separate talks, with Balkenende taking a central role as EU President.

[Copyright Expatica News 2004]

Subject: Dutch news