Earlier this month, we put up a post asking if it was time to re-open the European treaties. It was a lively debate, and we had a good number of comments and questions sent in by readers. However, one interesting angle that we hadn’t considered before was put forwards back in October by Europa Sustentavel, who asked:
Do you think that the aborted constitutional treaty could have helped the EU to move in the right direction?
On the face of it, the answer seems obvious. The idea of a “European Constitution” was rejected by French and Dutch voters in seperate referendums in 2005, and it is difficult to see how the earlier text could have functioned any better than the later Lisbon Treaty (which anyway incorporated a number of reforms from the abandoned constitution). However, if the process of institutional reform and “deepening” of the EU had been concluded in 2005 instead of 2008, is it possible that Europe might now be in a more confident position with regards to the Eurozone crisis?
Franco Frattini was Foreign Minister of Italy in 2004, and was therefore one of the official signatories to the Treaty Establishing a Constitution for Europe (along with former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi). We spoke to Mr Frattini recently and asked him if the constitution he signed back in 2004 would have made a difference to our current situation.
Mr Frattini specifically raised the issue of a banking union in his answer as something he believes could be achieved through “evolution and a very good implementation of the treaties”, rather than through treaty amendment. We’ve had several comments sent in on precisely this issue, including one from Antonio arguing:
A fiscal union and effective banking supervision can no longer [be ignored].
How would Mr Frattini respond to Antonio’s point? A fiscal union, with fiscal policy taken or coordinated at the European level, would be a huge leap forwards for European integration – and a move that many Europeans would certainly reject (see our recent post on EU budget negotiations, for example).
What do YOU think? Is it time to reconsider a constitution for Europe? Or is now, with the Eurozone crisis still ongoing, precisely the wrong time to be entering into such a debate? Do we need to implement a European fiscal and banking union before the crisis can finally be brought to an end? And, if so, can this be done within the existing EU treaties? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below, and we’ll take them to policy-makers and experts for their response.