Europe: Toward a constitutional treaty

A large debate is touching the heart of Europe, the architecture of the Union and its identity. In February, the European Convention, a group of 105 experts, began to prepare the draft of a constitutional treaty. After an initial period of listening and collecting suggestions from different quarters, the Convention is now analysing the proposals submitted by its working groups. The new Constitution aims at granting all Union citizens equal constitutional rights, and at making the integration progress more democratic. The new document will also take into consideration and incorporate the required reforms before the Union is enlarged in 2004 to cover 25 member states. Apparently abstract issues such as the juridical personality of the Union, the structure of economic governance, and the distribution of competencies between continental, national and local authorities, will undoubtedly have a profound impact on the life of more than 400 million people. At the end of November, a group of European Jesuits met in Brussels to have a mid-term evaluation of the Convention?s work. Two different drafts of the projected Constitution have so far been presented. While they are still like ?skeletons of a text?, they indicate some of the important options that will determine different political forms of governance. The Charter of Fundamental Rights, signed in 2000, is likely be included in the new constitutional treaty. Political issues emerging from the various proposals, rather than the need to mention the ?Christian heritage? in the preamble, became the focal point of the discussion among the Jesuits attending the meeting. The Catholic European Study and Information Centre (OCIPE) constantly follows the process and will organise a meeting in June, at the conclusion of the Commission?s work. [HL21208]