Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2002-03-13-Speech-3-353"

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"Madam President, at this late hour, anyone can make a mistake. If a market research institute were to ask people if they thought the European Union had its own personality, I think that the majority would say yes. They would most certainly be mistaken, but this error would demonstrate at least three things: firstly, the current lack of transparency in the European Union’s institutional architecture; secondly, the lack of information for citizens from their governments in areas such as those we are dealing with and, without a doubt, the most important thing, that reality is way ahead of the decisions taken at Intergovernmental Conferences to date. The citizens believe that the European Union has its own personality, yet the governments in these Conferences have had no desire to provide it with one. We ask for this in the report from the Committee on Constitutional Affairs, for which I am honoured to be the rapporteur, in agreement with the opinions of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, Human Rights, Common Security and Defence Policy and the Committee on Legal Affairs and the Internal Market, which I think are very positive contributions. I believe that this request for the Union to be given a legal personality was also apparent in the last Presidencies-in-Office of the Council, a desire expressed by both the Belgian and Spanish Presidencies. This, Madam President, is not an issue for legal experts, but a point that can be easily understood by any citizen: to know that he or she is a citizen of a European Union with its own personality, which can and should govern democratically and transparently, and they demand it fulfils its responsibilities. The European Union has existed since the Treaty of Maastricht, which is some time ago now, but neither at that time nor since has it wanted to expressly take on a legal personality; the latest example of this was the Treaty of Nice. The issue is on the table. Why have governments refused to act? Under these conditions, the EU continues to act like a child living under the legal authority of its parents: the European Communities. The question I would like to ask is the following: can we really uphold this contradictory and barely understandable situation for much longer? The answer to this question is becoming more and more clear – “no” – because the current situation causes legal confusion, political confusion, international and internal confusion, institutional confusion and, above all, as I said at the beginning of my speech, confusion amongst the citizens. I would now like to give you three examples of this in an international setting. We could go to a country such as Equatorial Guinea and see that the Commission delegation there is the Commission of the European Communities and not that of the European Union; we can listen to our representative in the United Nations and notice that he or she is from the European Communities and not the European Union, or, we see that a commitment made by a united Europe to very speedily endorse the Kyoto Protocol is not in fact endorsed by the European Union but the European Communities. Furthermore, this report has been produced at the same time as the start of the Convention on the future of Europe, which this Parliament hopes will produce a constitution. This will therefore be our first contribution to the Convention after it has been set up. It is logical that this issue should also be dealt with. We hope that the Convention and subsequently the Intergovernmental Conference, taking on board the issues that came to light at Laeken, will tackle the issue of giving the European Union a legal personality, which will have advantages that cannot be denied: firstly, legal clarity; secondly, the improvement of the Union's image and its capacity to take action on the international stage; thirdly, it will be a key element in establishing a system for the protection of fundamental rights at Union level; fourthly, to give Union policy a higher profile and make it easier for citizens to identify with the Union and, fifthly, to help remedy the dysfunctions caused by the pillar system. We also think that a legal personality is needed to bring the process of political union to a conclusion and that the process of the constitutionalisation of the Union will also require it to have its own legal personality. In fact, this is a necessary prerequisite to achieving these objectives in a coherent way. If this is not the final outcome, what will be the objective of the future constitutional text? Which body will take on the leading role in the European Constitution? The Union, the Communities, one of which is due to expire next Summer? For this reason we ask that legal personality be given to the European Union in the future European Constitution."@en1

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