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The Convention on the Future of Europe

How States Behave in a New Institutional Context of Negotiation


Francesco Marchi

The negotiation of new treaties, containing important institutional innovations and reforms, has been a constant challenge for the EU ever since the 1950s. When compared with the classic intergovernmental conferences, the Convention on the Future of Europe stands as a Copernican revolution that radically altered the method of treaty change. For the first time, Member States agreed to share their constituent power with representatives from the European institutions, as well as from the national parliaments. Adopting a multi-disciplinary approach merging history, political science and negotiation analysis, this book examines the origins of this new method, taking into account previous experiments of a constitutional nature such as the EPC, the Spinelli Draft Treaty and the convention that drafted the Charter of Fundamental Rights. It also analyses how this new method might have influenced the negotiating behaviour of government representatives. Using a case study approach in two specific policy areas that were negotiated at the European Convention – firstly, the reform of the EU’s institutional architecture and secondly, the adoption of a legal personality and the simplification of the legal instruments – the author explores how the characteristics of the issues under negotiation influenced the dynamics in the Assembly and, specifically, the behaviour of representatives of the Member States.
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Chapter I. Introduction


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This book is about the origins and functioning of the Convention on the Future of Europe that took place between February 2002 and July 2003. More specifically, it looks at how this new institutional context of negotiation has influenced the behaviour of the Member States’ governments. Since its foundation in the 1950s, the EU has incrementally evolved from an intergovernmental organisation to a supranational polity with a quasi-constitutional order. Its constant geographical expansion and the growing number of policy areas of competence brought to the fore of the EU political debate issues of constitutional character that were negotiated during the Amsterdam (1996) and Nice (2000) intergovernmental conferences (IGCs). However the two conferences failed to propose the reforms needed and the list of “leftovers” generated a long decade of continuous constitutional changes1. The Nice IGC was the turning point showing the limits of this method of treaty reform, criticised for the inflexibility of Member States governments’ positions, the lack of transparency and the marginal involvement of institutions like the European Parliament, the European Commission and the national Parliaments.

Despite the reticence of the some governments2, the Laeken European Council3, through a decision-making technology transfer, decided to convoke the Convention on the Future of Europe with the aim of proposing a comprehensive reform of the European Union Treaties. The new body was modelled on the previous Convention that drafted the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union in 1999-20004....

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