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Europe Democracy around the World D66 ALDE/ELDR European Parliament Strasbourg

MEP rejects ELDR Declaration on Laeken

   Tue 11/12/2001

"All points in the Declaration are essential for Europe's future, but I can not vote for something that calls for the ratification of the flawed Nice Treaty" explains Democrats 66 MEP Lousewies van der Laan. She expressed delight with the adoption of all other points, especially her owm amendment on the abolition of Strasburg as the seat of the European Parliament. The complete text of the resolution follows.

ELDR DECLARATION OF LAEKEN Resolved at Strasbourg, 11 December 2001

The European Liberal, Democrat and Reform Group in the European Parliament,

Affirming its conviction in the universal application of human rights and fundamental freedoms,

Determined to strengthen the European Union and its role in world affairs according to the values of liberty, democracy, ecology and security, Recognising the social, economic and political costs of European disunity,

With a view to the meeting of the European Council at Laeken on 14-15 December:

1. Confirms its commitment to the early enlargement of the European Union to as many states as possible fulfilling the criteria for membership;

2. Deeply concerned by the growing discontent with the European Union among the citizen, expressed not only by the result of the referendum in Ireland but also shown in numerous opinion polls;

3. Supports, therefore, the ratification of the Treaty of Nice;

4. Welcomes the physical introduction of the euro at the New Year which will further consolidate the single currency and which should encourage other member states to join the eurozone;

5. Strongly believes that the citizen must be the focus of all European co-operation and therefore is committed to making the EU more comprehensible, accessible and citizen-friendly by enhancing the level of the Union's information to and communication with citizens;

6. Urges the finalisation of all necessary decisions to set up the European Rapid Reaction Force, in close liaison with NATO;

7. Insists that the European Council gives a clear political lead on developing EU policy in the fight against terrorism and all other manifestations of international organised crime, though respecting established principles in criminal law;

8. Urges the European Council to raise the level of the Union’s engagement with Russia and to reinforce its efforts in the Middle East peace process, as well as to strengthen the Barcelona Process regarding the Mediterranean area;

9. Commends the Council on its decision to establish a constitutional Convention to prepare for the Intergovernmental Conference of 2004 involving representatives of the European and national parliaments, the European Council and Commission;

10. Anticipates that representatives of candidate countries will be able to play a full part in the work of the Convention;

11. Urges the European Council to let the Convention elect its own President between a short list, indicated by the European Council, of personalities of high profile and a proven track record in European Union affairs;

12. Calls for the European Council to establish a broad mandate for the Convention commensurate with the gravity of the constitutional issues raised by the debate on the future of Europe;

13. Demands an early start to the work of the Convention and a realistic timetable to enable it to draft coherent and detailed proposals for the IGC, which should itself finish in good time before the European Parliamentary elections in 2004 so as to provide the occasion for an electoral endorsement of the new constitutional treaty;

14. Insists that the Convention, within the mandate and timetable thus established, should be able to establish its own working methods;

15. Commits ELDR representatives in the Convention to work towards the following objectives for the enlarged and reformed Union:

a) revision of the treaties to make them shorter, readable and coherent, making the decision-making processes more transparent, more democratic and more efficient;

b) division of the treaties into a Basic Law entrenching constitutional provisions — including the Charter of Fundamental Rights — and a second part, comprising policy chapters, more susceptible to subsequent amendment;

c) reform of the procedures for treaty revision so that unanimity and national ratification are required only for the Basic Law and issues of fundamental national interest, and that, moreover, the European Parliament is involved in all cases;

d) redefinition of the powers of the Union so as to clarify purpose, objectives and respective competences of the EU institutions and to reassure member states and regional entities with constitutional attributes that their prerogatives will not be encroached upon capriciously;

e) reinforcement of the European Court of Justice so that it has the authority and capacity to adjudicate on matters concerning the fundamental rights of citizens and the constitution of the Union;

f) rectification of the flaws of previous treaties, notably the contrivance of the ‘three pillars’ of the Treaty of Maastricht, the tortuous approach to asylum and immigration policy of the Treaty of Amsterdam, and the over-complicated formulae of the Treaty of Nice concerning decision-making in the Council;

g) insistence that Parliamentary codecision should apply whenever the Council may decide by qualified majority vote;

h) insistence that the legislative parts of all Council meetings will be open and proceedings published;

i) introducing a hierarchy of norms, and restructuring the legislative, regulatory and executive instruments in order to allow modern forms of regulation and to promote the better application of the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality;

j) engaging member state parliaments in fashioning the activities of the Union, in holding ministers to account for their work in the Council and European Council, and in scrutinising developments in those areas, such as defence policy, where principal competences are retained at national level;

k) elevating the role of the regions in the political system of the Union, giving them designated responsibilities in the decentralised operation of common policies and consulting them on a systematic basis about the formulation and impact of policy, and enhancing their access to the Court of Justice;

l) enhancing the role of the European Commission in initiating and implementing both internal and external policy;

m) elaborating rules on good administration binding on the Union's institutions and bodies and enhancing the transparency of decision making;

n) establishing for the Union full legal personality to enable it to engage directly in the work of multilateral organisations, notably the UN, and to become a party in its own right to international treaties, such as the European Convention on Human Rights;

o) extending the powers of the Parliament across the whole of the EU budget, as well as the codecision procedure in agricultural matters;

p) granting the Parliament the power of assent in international trade policy;

q) ensuring that the Parliament plays a role in triggering all forms of differentiated integration among member states;

r) making possible Parliamentary scrutiny over secondary or delegated legislation;

s) giving Parliament stronger rights to make legislative proposals;

t) making it possible for the European Parliament to decide on the location of its own seat.

16. Commits itself to engaging fully in the dialogue with civil society as well as ELDR member parties on the matters to be debated in the Convention;

17. Declares its intention of nominating a candidate for the Presidency of the European Commission in the European Parliamentary election campaign of 2004;

18. Addresses this resolution to the President of the European Council, the President of the European Commission, and to the ELDR Party and its associates.