The Italian Prime Minister is in favour of the Constitution

Prodi warns against the Intergovernmental Conference

, by Translated by Oronzo Daloiso, Stefano Rossi

All the versions of this article: [English] [italiano]

The Italian Prime Minister is in favour of the Constitution

We are living in crucial times for the future of the European Constitution, before the next IGC produces the new treaty. Many proposals, of very diverse origins, tend to come from States and citizens. One of them came from the clear and pragmatic speech of the Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi, who called on MEPs to defend the European Constitution and warned the IGC against possibly minimalist results.

The starting point, according to Prodi, shall be the 2004 treaty, on which he commented positively by underlining its best parts: he praised the “legacy of simplicity and clearness”, sometimes questioned by the detractors of the Constitution. This text, undersigned by all EU countries and ratified by 18 of them, shall not be sold at an auction in which the future of Europe is assigned to the worst bidder.

The necessity to adopt a European Constitution is by now more and more pressing, in order to reduce the centrifugal forces which, after the failure of 2004, offer rich soil to those who do not believe in European integration. The IGC seems to be so crucial that the anxieties of those who have always fought for Europe are understandable. And it is precisely on this point that the speech of the Italian PM lacks efficacy: his words transmit the message that governments aiming at an ever closer Union shall put pressure on those who are rather sceptical. Yet, this analysis lacks an important element and here is the proof that community processes are scarcely democratic: the citizens.

The future of Europe depends on the citizens rather than on governments

What an allied government cannot obtain is likely to be obtained by the people: this is the point to highlight in order to save the Constitution. Especially if considering, that trade-off among governments is the natural habit of Eurosceptics, as shown by Sarkozy’s choice to defend the French national system during the IGC. His choice has a reason. In this sense, Prodi’s speech is powerless since it merely calls for a good outcome of the IGC, without entering the new order of ideas which is necessary to complete the European project.

Prodi analyses the possibility of a Europe of different speeds

The idea of Constitution itself implies a large consensus and an extended basis, functioning as a driving force for the body which is supposed to work on the text. It is inevitable that this body will be representative of governments’ interests, even though it would be desirable to use the same method as in 2004: considering how the IGC lacks democracy, we cannot abdicate our right to judge the outcome of government representatives. The peoples of Europe do not need an octroyé Constitution, kindly granted by someone.

Prodi tackles other significant points: first, he analyses the possibility of a process at different speeds. This hypothesis is precluded by Prof. Ziller in an interview he gave to Eurobull and it is retaken in consideration today: it is difficult to understand if the two have diverging opinions or if the contrast derives from Prodi’s loss of hope. Also in this case, consulting citizens on the basis of 450 millions electors might solve the problem, by recalling for a desired majority voting which excludes a priori the possibility of the right of veto.

Finally, the historic responsibility of MEPs and the European Parliament is emphasised: Prodi calls on them, insofar as they represent citizens. Their role, says the Prime Minister, is essential for a good outcome of the constitutional project; should this not happen, the risk would be that we “revert to the small Western appendix of the Asian continent, condemned not only by geography, but also by the history of the future”.

Image: Romano Prodi; source: Flickr.


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