After having successfully warded off the financial crisis at the December European Council, we are now facing the task to overcome the institutional crisis and to set the European Union on a basis which would enable us to face the challenges of the globalised world. I highly value Austria’s determination to bring the European Constitution back to the game, as one of the presidency priorities.
However, in this context I would like to draw your attention to risks hidden behind the direction which is being taken by the European Commission, as well as, most probably, by a part of this parliament: I mean the idea to carry on with further and further debates on expectations of citizens and to prepare at a later stage a new text which would solve the necessary reform of institutions and give, at the same time, the answer to all economic, social or security problems of Europe.
If we follow this path, we will repeat the mistake which was at the core of the failing of the last year´s referenda: this mistake united all those critical to whichever part of the EU´s policy and opposed them to the Constitution, regardless their approach towards the definition of the institutional framework of the EU. We made this mistake possible by submitting for ratification a constitution which contained both the rules governing the functioning of EU institutions and a summary of all common policies.
What is needed today vis a vis further enlargement as well as regarding ongoing changes of the international order, is to separate the constitutional framework, thus the first and the second part of the constitution, from the common policies in the third part. The first and the second part were not object of a controversy in the ratification debate – bringing them into life via ratification would provide us with a bunch of reformed rules, competencies and institutions and thereby enable us to look effectively for solutions for the most urgent problems our continent is facing today. Should we want to solve all at once, we will once more fail to solve anything.
The main result of the Austrian presidency should therefore be a concrete plan defining how to separate the discussion on institutional reform from a general discussion on all other European problems.