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EU constitution: is an EU-wide referendum the way forward?

A proposal for an EU-wide consultative referendum on the future of the EU was presented on Monday to the Constitutional Affairs Committee.

In the week of the 50th anniversary of the signature of the Treaty of Rome, the committee also held a debate on a report on the roadmap for the European Union’s constitutional process. Bronislaw Geremek (Poland) and Carlos Carnero Gonzales (Spain) presented a proposal to organize a consultative referendum on the EU simultaneously in all 27 Member States.

According to the two co-authors, this ballot should aim to trigger the debate on constitutional settlement and give a voice to all citizens in shaping the future of the EU. The proposed referendum would focus only on a few specific questions on the EU’s political dimension. The suggested timetable sets the consultation during the Portuguese Presidency for the second half of 2007. Therefore, its outcome could be submitted to an Intergovernmental Conference (IGC) by end of 2008.

Geremek said: „the next IGC would then have a direct knowledge of citizens’ aspirations [...] and a constitutional process which is more transparent”. Carnero said: „the referendum is needed to stop the Russian roulette that happens every time we need to ratify a major treaty”. According to the two authors of the proposal, Parliament should adopt a resolution to get the referendum process started.

The committee continued the debate with a presentation on the roadmap for the EU’s constitutional process by the two co-rapporteurs Enrique Baron Crespo (Spain) and Elmar Brok (Denmark). In their text, the two MEPs call on the European Council of June 2007 to convene an IGC as soon as possible, with a clear mandate and timetable, to reach a final compromise on the way out of the impasse. At its next meeting on 10 April, the Constitutional Affairs committee will discuss the follow up to the proposal for an EU referendum and a timetable for the approval of the report on the roadmap. (EP Press)