What are the issues?
For over half a century now the countries of the European Union have been at
peace. They have common objectives: democracy, stability and growth.
Reference documents :
Citizens of the Union enjoy freedom of movement and the rule of law is respected
and defended. The European Union is one of the three most prosperous parts of
the world, trade barriers have come down, the euro is in place.
Today there are new challenges to be met, which are incentives to the European
Union to rethink its role, improve its operation, go down new avenues of progress
Europe in the world
In a globalised, yet also highly fragmented world, Europe must shoulder
its responsibilities in the governance of globalisation, i.e. in its organisation
and operation. The role it has to play is that of a power opposed to violence,
terror and fanaticism, sensitive to the injustices of the world and ever ready
In promoting international cooperation, the European Union's aim is to
change the course of world affairs in a way which is to the benefit of
Europe seeks to set globalisation within a moral framework anchored in solidarity
and sustainable development.
Europe cannot take on these ambitious tasks at international level unless it
puts in place machinery that will enable it to meet the challenges and speak
to the world with a single voice.
What kind of machinery that should be is for the Convention to invent and propose.
The expectations of citizens
The citizens of Europe approve the broad aims of the Union, but they do not
always see a connection between those goals and the Union's everyday action.
They want the European institutions to be less unwieldy and rigid and, above
all, more open.
Many of them feel that the Union should involve itself more with their particular
concerns, but without having "a finger in every pie" at every level.
They want better control of the decisions that affect them.
But while they want more openness, more respect, more efficiency and more simplicity,
also like to see "more Europe".
They have concerns: about justice and security, action against crime, control
of migration flows. They also expect solutions on employment, combating poverty,
social exclusion and economic and social cohesion.
They are looking for a common approach on pollution, climate change and food
And they want to see Europe more involved in foreign affairs, security and defence.
In short, citizens look to the European Union for a lead on all of these major
problems, and realise that we need to tackle them together.
In formulating their expectations, Europeans confront their leaders and representatives
with an apparent paradox: they want a Europe which is simple and clear and respects
the competences of all, but they want it to take action in more and more areas.
The European Convention is called on to respond by proposing new ideas and fresh
Enlargement of the European Union
Fifty years on the Union stands at a crossroads, a defining moment in its existence.
The unification of Europe is near. The Union is about to expand to bring
in more than ten new Member States, predominantly Central and Eastern European.
This will finally bring to a close one of the darkest chapters in the continent's
history. At long last, Europe is on its way, peacefully, to becoming a coherent
whole whose members have shared values, ambitions, projects, rules and
However, that transformation towards a Europe of almost thirty members clearly
calls for a different approach from fifty years ago, when six countries first
took the lead in establishing the European Union.
But what approach?
Europe is changing, and the operation, rules and the very role of the European
Union must change too.
It is that capacity for change which has underpinned the construction of Europe
for over fifty years and today it falls to the European Convention to propose
ways of adapting and renovating Europe's institutional and political framework.
To do so, it must propose clear and consensual answers to basic questions. Here
are some of them:
. How is the division of competence between the Union and the Member States
to be organised?
. How can the European institutions' respective tasks be better defined?
. How can the coherence and efficiency of the Union's external action be ensured?
. How can the Union's democratic legitimacy be strengthened?
When it concludes, sometime in 2003, the Convention will submit its proposals
to the European Council, in which the Heads of State or Government of the Member
States of the Union regularly come together for discussions. The next Intergovernmental
Conference will work on that basis.
Charter of Fundamental Rights
For more information:
Public opinion in Europe
The institutions of the European Union
The European Union in
brief and in a few figures