Understanding the European Constitution

Why a NO vote means less democracy, human rights and security
Servatius Van Thiel
Richard Lewis
Karel De Gucht

In June 2005 the French and Dutch electorates rejected the new European Constitution, which plunged Europe into crisis and left its leaders scrambling for an adequate response.

This book helps to better understand that, ironically, the new Constitution would improve the European Union on many of the points on which it is criticised by the NO campaign. In fact the Constitution would not create a far-away undemocratic super-state run by uncontrolled technocrats. It would not prejudge political choices on the socio-economic model in Europe or on the accession of Turkey . It would not favour further delocalistion of economic activity resulting in massive job losses. On the contrary, the Constitution would simplify the existing treaties and clarify the division of competences between the Union and its Member States . It would increase the democratic legitimacy of the Union and ensure more political-, judicial-, financial- and media-control over European decision-making. It would place Citizens rights and freedoms at the hart of the integration process and allow the Union to better address Citizens concerns over jobs, ageing and security. Europe could more firmly assert its unique identity on the world stage and press on with its non militarist integrated security strategy.

In short, in this book, a selection of well placed authors, who as political and judicial leaders (Belgian Prime Minister Verhofstadt and Foreign Affairs Minister De Gucht, former Commissioner Vitorino, European Court Judge Lenaerts), Union officials (Devuyst, van Thiel, Martenczuk, Lewis) and academics (De Schouwer, De Hert, Biscop, Gerard), know Europe from the inside, analyse and explain how the Constitution would contribute to a more efficient and democratic Europe that would be better equiped to face the challenges of a globalising world.

This book is largely based on a collection of papers from the speakers invited by the Institute for European Studies (IES) of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel to contribute to a weekly lecture series on globalisation. The series took place in the Spring of 2004, at the premises of the Brussels Free University.