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Since the clear rejection of the EU Constitution by the French and Dutch in 2005, the EU has demonstrated its contempt for democracy by carrying on with political integration regardless.
Some aspects of the EU Constitution have been established despite the 'No' votes, using 'flexibility' clauses in the existing EU Treaty (Article 308 in particular) that were really created for Single Market measures - not for increasing the EU's political control into new policy areas.
Larger changes proposed by the Constitution - such as the full-time president, an EU foreign minister, the Charter of Fundamental Rights, and reductions in voting power and vetoes - are now being wrapped up in a 'revival' treaty.
Through changing the terminology, but not the substance, (see quotes) various governments hope the result will not inflame the same demands for referenda as the 'EU Constitution' did.
on this plan to cheat voters out of being given a say on the same measures
that the EU Constitution proposed (those not already implemented, at
least) was made at the EU summit on
At the summit, in his last act as prime minister, Tony Blair agreed a mandate to be taken forward to a new Inter-Governmental Conference (IGC), which started on 23 July 2007. The IGC will hammer out the small-print of the treaty.
The Portugese presidency of the EU reached final agreement at their mid-Presidency summit on 18/19 October 2007 and the final signing of the treaty happened at a summit in December 2007.
Ratification through Parliament began immediatedly afterwards and the treaty (being implemented as the EU Amendment Bill) passed its final stage in the House of Commons on 11 March 2008.
The treaty now moves to the House of Lords, where there will be further debate over its clauses and a referendum. It is due for its Second Reading in the Lords on 1 April, and debate is likely to go on throughout May and into June.
is aimed to be completed during 2008 in advance of a
HISTORY OF THE EU CONSTITUTION
The roadmap to an EU Constitution - and the current revived treaty - started at the Laeken EU Summit in December 2001, which called together the European Convention on the Future of Europe and gave it the task of reviewing the structure of the EU.
the leadership of former French president Valery Giscard d'Estaing,
the 105-strong European Convention first met in February 2002 to
consider their task. However, their thoughts were immediately directed
down the path of creating an EU Constitution and further integration
rather than considering any other proposals for reform of the EU.
The summit happened, but agreement didn't. The meeting broke up in acrimony when Spain and Poland refused to agree to the change in the number of votes they would have had in the Council of Ministers under the Constitution. Subsequently, Irish prime minister Bertie Ahern has revealed that in fact 20 areas of the Constitution remain open to negotiation. [EUobserver]
At the start of 2004, behind-the-scenes negotiations began in order to forge agreement. With the change of government in Spain and with Poland softening their opposition on voting, progress was announced at an Irish EU summit on 25-26 March 2004.
The final document was agreed at an EU summit on 17-18 June 2004 and officially signed in Rome on 29th October 2004. EU member countries then had two years - until November 2006 - to bring the EU Constitution into force by ratifying it through their national parliaments.
Here, in April 2004 former Prime Minister Tony Blair dramatically reversed his initial opposition to a referendum on the EU Constitution [Daily Telegraph] after a concerted campaign by the Democracy Movement and others, and pledged to let the people decide. First, however, he said that the final document must be considered by Parliament.
This process started in November 2004 with the announcement in the Queen's Speech of a Bill to ratify the EU Constitution. With a Spring 2005 general election to occupy the government and with Britain holding the EU presidency in the second half of 2005, a referendum was thought most likely to happen in 2006, in order to meet the EU's November 2006 ratification deadline.
However, the French and Dutch 'No' votes to the EU Constitution in their referendums in May and June 2005 intervened, and caused referendums and parliamentary ratification processes to be delayed indefinitely in other EU member countries.
Here, Tony Blair announced that Parliament would not consider the Constitution any further until French and Dutch opposition had been reversed.
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