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  Perspectives of the lethal EU Constitution

Darius Varanavièius, political scientist, executive editor of the magazine "The State"
2007 04 06

After Germany has taken over the presidency of the EU, one of the strategic tasks specified by the chancellor A.Merkel was the desire to renew the Treaty on the EU Constitution with a view to defining a new development trend of the EU. Such a high level political statement could mean that it is not enough to have operating agreements for the existence of the EU. Quite frequently the EU, while considering transnational or regional problems, is not only passive, but also is faced with major or minor internal crises. This could be witnessed by the recent examples – long and complicated negotiations on financial prospects of 2007-2013 and indirect conflicts with Russia on obstacles in the supply of oil and gas.

In terms of the EU Constitution, it is worth while mentioning that A.Merkel has not clearly specified whether it was necessary to try revitalize the old draft, or to elaborate a completely new treaty. However, the presidency of France, which has firmly supported the chancellor, lets us understand that a new draft Constitution should be drawn up by taking all the acceptable provisions from the old version.

So far the above statements have not been officially supported by the EC. It is worth while mentioning that revitalization of the old and elaboration of a new EU Constitution will take place under different conditions compared to what has been done with the „late“ Treaty on the European Constitution. It can be firmly stated that this process will be far more complex and even longer than negotiations on the Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe, which Lithuania has ratified so enthusiastically.

First of all this will be due to the enlargement of the EU, and this might strongly complicate a pursuit of consensus. The mentioned negotiations on financial prospects of 2007-2013 have already shown that. The second complicated factor is the increasing tension with the Eastern region having boundaries with the EU, especially with Ukraine, the ambitions of which to maintain close contacts with the EU are absolutely unappreciated by Russia. One more complicated problem is the changed status of Turkey, however, the decision to start negotiations with the country has already been made. Moreover we should not also forget a constantly postponed, however, inevitable perspective of the Korean membership in the EU. All the above factors are related to possible quantitative development of the EU, and this will complicate the already problematic decision-making processes.

However, a quality factor also exists. In view of that it could be said that after the EU enlargement of 2004 and 2007 a principle of „a two-speed Europe“ became operative, since the level of development of 12 new and the recent members is considerably lower (maybe excluding Slovenia) then that of the „old club“.  Therefore, further EU enlargement should not be a key priority of the organization, however, nothing else but political motives predetermined (at least until the year 2007) the majority of strategic decisions of the EU. Taking into consideration the need for the economic leverage of the EU, which will become especially obvious upon the commencement of introduction of Euro in the new Member States, the statements of A.Merkel and enthusiasm of J.Chirac could be evaluated as one more political declaration stipulating the guidelines, however, having no background so far.

Thus, most probably today it would be more useful for the EU to consolidate efforts for the improvement of quality of the current situation and implementation (though delayed or partial) of objectives of the Lisbon Strategy. Today economic and social tasks should become instrumental, whereas major political projects of strategic importance could be left for the future.

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