http://politics.guardian.co.uk/eu/story/0,9061,981152,00.html
 
The draft constitution

A beginner's guide

Ian Black, Ewen MacAskill, Alan Travis, Clare Dyer and Larry Elliot
Friday June 20, 2003
The Guardian


7 European leadership

What is being proposed? Under the Giscard D'Estaing draft constitution, a new president would head policymaking council of ministers, serving for a maximum of two 2= years terms, elected by EU leaders. EU parliament gets 34 more areas where it has power of "co-decision" to approve laws

What difference will it make? President will replace EU's current system of running council of ministers using a rotating presidency, with different member states taking charge every six months. European parliament will gain added status

What is the case for change? Will boost continuity and end confusion, giving strategic direction to EU policy on issues such as trade, economic reform, the environment and foreign policy

What are the sticking points? The idea of president appeals to large member states, but smaller countries and the commission dislike the idea. Plans were watered down from original draft proposals to avoid creating more bureaucracy. Britain wants to clarify powers and ensure the incumbent is a CEO, not a figurehead. France is against giving the parliament powers of co-decision on agricultural spending Ian Black

7 The EU commission

What is being proposed? Draft proposes that the European commission - the EU's civil service - should be reshaped, fixing the number of senior national appointees, such as Britain's Chris Patten and Neil Kinnock, running it

What difference will it make? All EU member states currently appoint one or two commissioners to oversee an area of policy. Draft calls for just 15 commissioners from 2009, even though there will be 25 or more member states by then

What is the case for change? Desire to keep executive to a manageable size and rotate commissioners on an equal basis between all states. Draft proposes that future head of commission should be chosen by EU leaders then approved by parliament. That seems to offer no increase in democratic legitimacy

What are the sticking points? The commission is deeply unhappy with the change, arguing that all member states need to keep a direct link with the body. Current president Romano Prodi fears a dilution of his successors' power. Britain and other big countries broadly happy with proposals; small states are likely to agree,albeit grumpily Ian Black

7 Foreign and defence

What is being proposed? A new EU foreign minister, merging the current two EU frontmen on foreign policy. Draft treaty also calls for a common defence policy and an EU mutual defence guarantee, like the one at the heart of Nato

What difference will it make? Depends on the draft. If foreign policy were subject to qualified majority voting QMV), the new minister could have a big impact. On defence it would bring new coordination, especially as Nato was weakened by wrangles over Iraq war

What is the case for change? Henry Kissinger used to say that US diplomacy would be a lot easier if he only had to make one phone call to Europe. The aim is to boost the EU's international presence and achieve greater consenus on defence policy and other issues

What are the sticking points? Brussels critics say the foreign minister idea is unworkable because one person cannot resolve the tension between nation states. Jack Straw also argues that the term minister is misleading. "Minister in which government?" he asks. Britain insists Nato, not the EU, will remain the centrepiece of European defence Ian Black and Ewen MacAskill

7 Immigration and asylum

What is being proposed? A genuine common European asylum policy for the first time. Moves to merge visa policy, building on the existing Schengen scheme (Britain not a member), more collective decision-making and direct EU enforcement of immigration law

What difference will it make? Common definitions of who should qualify for refugee status, common standards accommodation and welfare benefits will be agreed. Summit will agree to develop pilot schemes put forward by UN high commission for refugees

What is the case for change? Immigration issues, by their nature, affect states jointly. current system is not working. Cooperation is the way forward

What are the sticking points? Tony Blair backs an extension of qualified majority voting the issue, arguing that this not threaten Britain's right to decide who enters the UK. Nevertheless the commission wants its proposals to lead the development of a European border guard force, move resisted by Britain so far Alan Travis

7 Charter of rights

What is being proposed? Existing charter of fundamental rights, already agreed by EU states, will be formally incorporated into new treaty

What difference will it make? Greatly enhanced status for the charter, which protects the rights of EU citizens on a wide range of fronts. Clauses relating to employment rights could have big impact, including provisions on consultation of workers, collective bargaining and unfair dismissal

What is the case for change? Charter has already been agreed by states (though Britain had held it was only a declaration of intent, not binding law, a situation which is no longer the case) so incorporating it in the new treaty makes sense

What are the sticking points? Worries about creating new economic and social rights not enshrined in UK law have been largely overcome in the final draft, which calls for detailed "explanations" about the legal applicability of the charter. This means the charter might only apply at EU level. Critics, including the Tories, say it undermines national powers across a broad range of issues Ian Black

7 Law in the EU

What is being proposed? EU aims to create a European public prosecutor to tackle serious cross-border crime, particularly fraud, including crimes against the EU itself. EU would also acquire a new single legal personality, merging the original EEC of 1957 with the EU of 1992

What difference will it make? Prosecutor would have powers to investigate crimes committed across EU borders, prosecuting them in national courts. Office of the prosecutor could operate in any country bring criminals to justice for serious crime affecting several member states"

What is the case for change? Now, only a state's own prosecutors can prosecute the state's courts, although there is already extensive cooperation between states on cross-border crime, and arrangements to tackle cross-frontier abuse of EU finances

What are the sticking points? Eight countries, including UK, oppose the idea. Britain believes it would not tackle root causes of fraud and would mean "loss of national accountability for prosecution decisions" in criminal law. Supporters, led by France and Germany, argue that national police forces lack the links and resources with other forces chase the biggest fraudsters Clare Dyer

7 Taxation

What is being proposed? Potential abolition of national veto in areas such as excise duties and corporation tax

What difference will it make? National governments could not block moves to harmonise tax rates across EU unless they could muster a coalition of states

What is the case for change? Positive: tax harmonisation would enhance the creation of true single market, ending tax rate differences, and making Europe more competitive. Negative: The current regime encourages tax competition, pitting member states against each other to offer the most attractive tax rates

What are the sticking points? There are two arguments. The first is that tax decisions are matters for democratically elected governments. The second is that taxes will be harmonised upwards, as high-tax countries try to bring low-tax countries up to their level. That might lead to companies moving to North America or Asia. Tax is a key sticking point for Britain, which will not agree to QMV Larry Elliot