The document is called The Future of the European Union, and was drawn up in Belgium by Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt and a council of experts, including ex-European Commission President, Jacques Delors and former Prime Ministers from several EU member states.
The document is a draft which will be presented to the public at the forthcoming EU summit in Laeken, Belgium, in two weeks’ time and will set the agenda for the conference on the future of Europe in 2004, on which date it will be decided whether or not to admit ten new member states from central and eastern Europe.
The document proposes an EU Constitution and a Charter of Fundamental Rights, to be assimilated into European Law. It also suggests that the European president should be elected directly, defends qualified majority voting (doing away with the right of veto by one nation) and postulates the creation of cross-European political parties.
What is most surprising in the document is the fact that it openly criticises the European Union as an institution, declaring that it has failed its citizens by alienating them from its organisms by taking too many decisions without consultation of the public.
Those against federalist tendencies in the EU will seize this report eagerly to fuel criticism that the institution is trying to cover too much ground, too fast and that a two-speed Europe is very much a reality. The two-speed Europe can be perceived as Europeans vs. Eurocrats or the richer, core nations vs. the peripheral nations.
Where the “new babes” from Central and Eastern Europe will fit in to the picture is as yet unclear.
Timothy BANCROFT-HINCHEY PRAVDA.Ru
Russian small missile ships - the Grad Sviyazhsk and the Great Ustyug - set off for a mission to the Mediterranean Sea