European Law Monitor

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Opening of the interparliamentary meeting on the Future of Europe

Earlier on Monday 4th Deember, MEPs and national MPs gathered for a brief opening session of the full interparliamentary meeting. The meeting - which follows on from a similar gathering in May - aims to assess progress made during the 'period of reflection' on the future of Europe since the 'no' votes in referendums on the proposed EU constitution in France and the Netherlands. In his opening remarks, EP President Josep Borrell said "so far the period of reflection has produced more questions than answers".
The EP President, who co-chaired the opening session with the Speaker of the Finnish Parliament Paavo Lipponen, recalled that the forthcoming German Presidency will have to propose a way out of the stalemate: "There is talk of convening an Intergovernmental Conference next summer.” But for Josep Borrell, an IGC was not the best method to discuss and approve reforms. He wanted both the European and national parliaments to be involved in the talks on the future institutional set-up of the EU.
Mr Lipponen said "the Finnish Parliament, the Eduskunta, will approve the Constitutional Treaty tomorrow by great majority. We are all aware that the treaty may not enter into force in its current form, but the approval...will be a political act, confirming our determination to defend the essential content of the treaty". Mr Borrell congratulated Mr Lipponen for the fact that Finland was about to become the sixteenth Member State to ratify the treaty and agreed with him that the constitution should be the basis of any new proposal.
The Eduskunta Speaker also said that the constitutional debate should not paralyse the EU's work: “We have a full mandate to deliver results on the basis of the present Treaties."
The three working groups will report back to Tuesday's plenary session, which will also look at the wider questions of Europe's institutional future.