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Debates
Wednesday, 12 January 2005 - Strasbourg OJ edition

6. Explanations of vote
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  President. – Ladies and gentlemen, we shall now proceed to the explanations of vote.

- Recommendation: Manuel Medina Ortega (A6-0073/2004)

 
  
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  Fatuzzo (PPE-DE).(IT) Mr President, thank you for allowing me to speak to explain my vote after the sitting was suspended by the President. I confirm that I voted for the report by Mr Manuel Medina Ortega on civil liability in motor vehicle accidents, which unfortunately occur all over Europe.

I should like to request that, in his next reports on this topic, Mr Medina Ortega, a lawyer, should think of protecting the elderly. When the elderly are injured in road accidents, they do not receive compensation because they cannot earn an income on account of their age. I believe the fact that they are elderly does not mean they do not have a right to compensation for any injuries they sustain.

 
  
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  Figueiredo (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) The purpose of the proposal before us is to update the minimum amounts of compulsory cover, within the framework of Community harmonisation on this matter, in the directive in question on motor vehicle security.

The main problem with this proposal is that of striking a balance between, on the one hand, the need to improve victim protection cover – cover for personal and material damage – in the event of a car accident involving a car of relatively low value and the fact, on the other hand, that improvement in cover of this nature will result in a rise in insurance premiums, when the ‘prices’ charged by insurers are not monitored.

A further aspect of this issue is the general problem of harmonisation when economic situations vary from country to country. This must be taken into account, especially in southern countries, such as Portugal, which have always had reservations on this issue. Portugal has had a transitional period in which to adapt national legislation. The common position provides for a further transitional period of five years, which I believe strikes a better balance.

Nevertheless, the proposals to raise minimum amounts to EUR 1 million per victim and EUR 5 million per event, regardless of the number of victims, is excessive, particularly the latter.

 
  
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  Martin, David (PSE), in writing. I hope this proposal will be successful in its aims of modernising and improving the existing EU rules in the field of motor insurance.

There are clear advantages for drivers in having a coherent framework for the recognition of their insurance policies and claims across frontiers. This report should also add clarity to what legal assistance drivers are entitled to following an accident.

I hope the dispute over 'vehicle and trailer' issues does not stop this being adopted without need for conciliation.

 
  
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  Queiró (PPE-DE), in writing. (PT) I voted in favour of the Recommendation for Second Reading by Mr Medina Ortega (A6-0073/2004) on civil liability in respect of the use of motor vehicles.

The development of the internal market, and the increase in Community traffic have meant that for ten years we have needed to update the rules in force. It was therefore necessary to update and strengthen protection through compulsory cover for victims of accidents caused by one motor vehicle, and to ensure greater convergence in the way in which Member States interpret and implement the directive.

With this fifth Directive it will be easier to obtain effective and valid civil liability insurance outside the country of residence, and to sell or buy a vehicle in another Member State. Furthermore, this text increases legal protection for the victims of accidents. I also feel that it is extremely important to highlight Parliament’s proposal as regards a transitional period of up to five years to enable Member States to adapt to the minimum cover amounts.

 
  
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  Ribeiro e Castro (PPE-DE), in writing. (PT) Insurance against civil liability in respect of the use of motor vehicles is extremely important to European citizens either as the insured or as the victims of an accident.

The draft legislative resolution updates and enhances protection for victims of road accidents through compulsory insurance; it plugs gaps and clarifies provisions in directives so as to ensure greater convergence in the way in which the Member States interpret and implement them; and it provides for solutions to problems that often arise, in order to ensure a more efficient internal market in the area of car insurance. In so doing, it contributes towards modernising and updating European insurance law and, at the same time, looks after the consumers’ interests and ensures that those consumers will enjoy a higher level of cover.

The legislative resolution is thus in line with measures to strengthen protection for the victims of road accidents and seeks to ensure that the injured party is duly reimbursed.

I hope, however, that some flexibility will ultimately prevent a sudden sharp rise in insurance premiums.

I also feel it is extremely important that legislative efforts be made to prevent the use of delaying tactics to renege on the liability guaranteed in the transfer of risk contract.

My vote is in line with the consensus that was reached yesterday in the trialogue.

 
  
  

Report: Richard Corbett and Íñigo Méndez de Vigo (A6-0070/2004)

 
  
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  Fatuzzo (PPE-DE).(IT) Mr President, while I was voting for the Constitution for Europe – and I was pleased to vote in favour of it – I dozed off; I do not know why: perhaps it was the calm way in which Mr Borrell Fontelles conducts voting. As I was dozing off I saw you, Mr Onesta, telling me that I must vote for the Constitution, and when I asked, ‘Why must I vote for it?’ you replied, ‘You represent the pensioners, after all!’ We have to realise that this Constitution, which incorporates the Charter of Fundamental Rights, gives the elderly the right to be seen as deserving the same rights as the young, the same rights as workers. While declaring that I voted for the Constitution, I would also express the hope there will not be any discrimination of any kind against the elderly in Europe.

 
  
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  Vanhecke (NI). (NL) Mr President, the fact that we unequivocally reject this European Constitution does not mean that we are opposed to further European cooperation – the contrary is the case. We do, however, resist the European big brother state, which is the precise opposite of what is laid down in this Constitution, namely respect for the subsidiarity principle.

Since we Flemings live within the Belgian federal state, we are experiencing first-hand how difficult, not to say impossible, it is to have good governance within a federal state. When we now notice that with this Constitution, the European Union will increasingly resemble a kind of enlarged Belgium with extensive intervention in competences that, in our view, are strictly national, including culture, language legislation, and social security – to name but a few – then that is more than a bridge too far for us. We are in favour of Europe but not of European uniformity. Needless to say, we have voted against this European Constitution for those reasons, as well as many others.

 
  
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  Savary (PSE). (FR) Mr President, when I voted in favour of the Corbett report, it was not because I thought the Constitution was the end of the story. At the same time, however, I did not think it was the result of chance. What firstly crossed my mind were the lengthy struggles that preceded the 1949 European Convention on Human Rights and the 1961 European Social Charter, with the latter being backed by all the trade unions. These have now borne fruit in the shape of Part Two of the Constitutional Treaty, which contains the Charter of Fundamental Rights. Above all, however, my thoughts turned to the real father of the Constitution, Altiero Spinelli, whose name is not mentioned nearly enough. Spinelli, a member of the Communist Youth who was put under house arrest for ten years by Mussolini, anticipated today’s text right from the European Parliament’s first term as a directly-elected body. Another name to cross my mind was that of Mr Duhamel, who during the last parliamentary term prompted us to hold a public Convention in order to draft this Constitutional Treaty. I therefore came to the conclusion that, as a left-winger, I could lend my support to this draft Constitutional Treaty today without any qualms, as it will open a promising page in the history of the EU.

 
  
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  Korhola (PPE-DE). (FI) Mr President, I voted to adopt the Constitution, but at the same time I wish to express my unhappiness that our Christian heritage is hardly mentioned. In the debate on the subject there has been a general misunderstanding of the nature of the mention it gets. This is not a matter of a declaration of faith, but an acknowledgement of the basis of our ethical infrastructure.

God does not need the protection afforded by the articles in the Constitution – it is not a question of that – but human beings do. Defence of the weak cannot be justified in an Aristotelian way, with merely rational arguments. For that reason, I think we ought to have acknowledged the role of Christianity behind the concept of European humanity. The type of humanism we know today owes much to the Christian image of humanity that emphasises the value of the individual. We need a firm basis for our great dreams of a fair Europe. Hopefully we will be able to continue to help it develop.

 
  
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  Claeys (NI). (NL) Mr President, it is, of course, impossible, within the space of one minute, to list all the reasons why I have voted against the report on the European Constitution. I will therefore confine myself to the essence, namely that it is nation states that have constitutions, and not a body such as the European Union, unless, of course, the intention is to turn the European Union into a federalist superstate, in which case they should not count on the support of the Vlaams Belang.

Not everything in the Constitutional Treaty is bad – on the contrary – but there is no doubt that a number of simplifications and clarifications could have been carried out by means of a new European treaty of the traditional kind. This Constitution, above all, leads to new transfers of competences to the EU and more European interference. Moreover, in view of the probable accession of Turkey, a country which will considerably shake up the functioning of all institutions, the text is already superseded before it is ratified in the Member States.

 
  
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  Pflüger (GUE/NGL). (DE) Mr President, I would like to say that I think there is something very unusual about the way in which statements of vote are being dealt with in this instance. The report on which we have just voted states that: ‘the greatest advances brought by the Constitution are to be found in the specific area of common security policy’. That is the principal reason why I reject this Constitutional Treaty for the EU. Its Article I-41, paragraph 3 states that ‘the Member States are obliged to progressively improve their military capacities’, which means that the EU’s Member States are obliged to rearm. When we turn to foreign and military policy, we find that the Constitutional Treaty evidently aims to equip the European Union to wage global war. Article I-41, paragraph 1, states that the Treaty is intended to secure operational capacity drawing on military assets, so that the Treaty makes rearmament an obligation. An armaments agency is to be set up to monitor all this and to implement appropriate measures to strengthen the industrial and technological basis of the defence sector. I think there is a whole array of other points demonstrating why the Constitutional Treaty, which militarises the European Union, must be rejected. That is what I wanted this statement of vote to make clear.

 
  
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  Konrad (PPE-DE). (DE) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, the Constitutional Treaty represents significant progress in the process of bringing Europe together, and that is why I voted in favour of it.

At the same time, there are aspects of it that give me cause for concern, one of them being the open coordination method as cooperation – with non-binding legal status – between Member States in the fields of social and employment policy, research policy, health policy and industrial policy. The Commission is now, in these areas, empowered to take the initiative in enacting guidelines and action plans.

What this means in practice is that policy initiatives – new ones – are taken first, and then the related powers and responsibilities may be created. The open coordination method represents the incipient transfer to the European level of what were formerly national areas of activity and blurs the demarcation of powers and responsibilities between Europe and the Member States. Competition between the Member States is necessary, but this process is likely, to say the least, to shut it down.

 
  
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  Deß (PPE-DE). (DE) Mr President, I wish to make a statement on the way I voted. I voted in favour of the Convention because, despite my misgivings about it, it represents an improvement on the present situation and the law as it stands.

I am saddened, though, that this Constitution contains no reference to God. It is a disappointment to me, and to millions of European citizens, that the 25 Heads of Government and this Parliament did not have the will or the strength to get a reference to the Deity inserted. A European Constitution would have benefited from it being stated in the preamble that we are responsible for actions both to God and to man.

Another reason, though, why I voted in favour of the Constitution, was that its Article 57 makes it possible for Turkey and other countries to be offered a long-term and privileged partnership in the context of special relationships. It is my hope that it will prove possible to incorporate the reference to the Deity in the Constitution at a later date.

 
  
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  Brepoels (PPE-DE), in writing. (NL) With the European Constitution, Europe wants to make Europe more democratic and more transparent. This is exemplified by Parliament’s reinforced role in the decision-making process, the confirmation and strengthening of the subsidiarity principle, the creation of one uniform legal framework and the simplification of the legislative instruments. The extension of Europe’s competences to include defence and asylum policy, and the definition of the European values are important new departures in the Constitution.

The Constitution is a step forward. A timid one, yes, but it is still a step forward. That is why the New Flemish Alliance (N-VA) supports this step because it stands for a more democratic and transparent Europe, a Europe with a strong public culture built from the bottom up and supported by its citizens.

At the same time, the N-VA regards the Constitution as a missed opportunity. Although three-quarters of European regulations are implemented at local and regional level, the involvement of those regional authorities that implement them is minimal. The regions that make up Europe are not allocated a single (formal) role in the European decision-making process. Apart from a noncommittal paragraph concerning the recognition of the national identity of the Member States, in this Constitution, the Union completely overlooks the institutional reality in various Member States. The continuing denial of this regional dimension is at odds with the idea of subsidiarity.

 
  
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  Carlotti (PSE), in writing. (FR) I welcome the progress made in the Constitutional Treaty with regard to development and international solidarity, the principle of which is enshrined as one of the EU’s fundamental values.

For the first time, this Treaty includes a separate chapter on cooperation with third countries and on humanitarian aid.

It emphasises objectives pertaining to this policy, namely the eradication of poverty, the promotion of health and the fight against infectious diseases. It gives priority to children’s rights, and makes a great deal of progress with regard to women’s rights and their key role in development.

The European Union has therefore reached a significant milestone, by acknowledging in its Constitutional Treaty that solidarity cannot be limited to its own territory and its own citizens, but should extend beyond its borders.

I have a number of concerns, of course, particularly with regard to the lack of any reference to ‘global public goods’, an issue upon which I put forward proposals.

Together with my Socialist colleagues, however, I intend to continue the fight to put into action and practice that which we were unable to put in the text of the Treaty.

 
  
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  Casaca (PSE), in writing. (PT) This positive and balanced report gives the Treaty a favourable verdict. It is very disappointing, however, that it does not take account of the opinion of Parliament’s Committee on Fisheries, the only European body with specific powers in the area of fisheries which discussed the amendments introduced to the conservation of marine biological resources.

As the Committee on Fisheries concluded, ‘within the context of the other exclusive competences of the EU which are detailed in the draft Constitution, the inclusion of the conservation of marine biological resources is anomalous and unjustified’.

Unlike the other areas in which the Treaty has undergone substantial amendments, marine biological resources are not solely the institutional concern of politicians. They are the concern of the maritime communities, fishermen, scientists and environmentalists, whose opinions should never have been ignored.

Indeed, an opinion poll in Portugal found that only 4% of the public supported this solution, as opposed to 86% in favour of shared or national power.

The conservation of marine biological resources cannot be anybody’s specific competence. It is the duty of every citizen, and in particular of the citizens who depend on those resources for their livelihoods, people who cannot be ignored by the European institutions and by the representatives of the Member States. I trust that this ‘unjustified anomaly’ will soon be rectified.

 
  
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  Cederschiöld, Fjellner and Ibrisagic (PPE-DE), in writing. (SV) The Moderate delegation has today voted in favour of the report on the Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe, A6-0070/2004.

We believe that the Constitutional Treaty should respect the institutional balance. We therefore reject the proposals to introduce an elected President of the Council and to have the President of the Commission elected by the European Parliament. We are also opposed to the procedure laid down in Article IV-444 and generally known as the passerelle, because we consider it fundamental that changes to the Treaty be ratified by each Member State before they enter into force.

The Constitutional Treaty makes the basic rules governing cooperation in the European Union easier to understand. We are in favour of the greater weight given to subsidiarity, and we support the wordings that re-confirm and further develop the national parliaments’ role in European cooperation. EU law, as it has been in force and been applied, is affirmed when it comes to the relationship between EU law and national law; that is to say, Community law takes precedence over national law, account always being taken however of the Member States’ constitutional traditions. The limits of the EU’s competence are also clarified, and the legislative procedure simplified. We therefore support the proposed Constitutional Treaty.

 
  
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  De Rossa (PSE), in writing. I fully support this report and eventually support adoption of the draft Constitution.

The Constitution was drafted in a uniquely democratic process and putting in place a Constitution for Europe by way of a binding treaty between sovereign states is the most important European decision citizens will make.

Four European treaties in less than 15 years have resulted in many undoubted European successes: the single market, the euro, the accession of eastern European countries, rising environmental standards, greater equality between women and men, and anti-poverty and full employment strategies, to name but a few.

But it had become increasingly obvious, particularly since the Nice European Summit in 2000, that the old intergovernmental method of revising European Treaties did not enable adequate European responses to the common challenges facing us to emerge, nor did it enable citizens to feel that the process belonged to them. Europe’s institutional framework still needed to be overhauled, decision-making had to be made more democratic and brought closer to the citizens and Europe had to meet its responsibilities to the rest of the world, especially the developing world if the project is to help in bringing the globalisation process under democratic control.

 
  
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  Fernandes (PSE), in writing. (PT) I applaud the quality of the report on the Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe. Whilst the Constitution falls short of what Parliament wanted and has enshrined controversial issues, such as the question – extremely important to Madeira and the Azores – of the Union’s exclusive competences in the area of the conservation of marine biological resources, against which a number of opposing views were raised at the Convention, and in the opinion on the Constitution issued by the Committee on Fisheries, I do acknowledge that it represents a welcome compromise and an improvement on the Treaties in force, as mentioned by the joint rapporteurs, and is a significant step towards achieving the European project, from the point of view of both the Member States and the citizens of Europe.

I also wish to highlight the Constitution’s approach to the status of the outermost regions. Not only does the Constitution maintain and strengthen the possibility of modulating the implementation of all European policies to the outermost regions, but it is also confirmed that this article constitutes a valid legal basis that is sufficient to underpin the development of a genuine policy for the outermost regions.

I shall be voting in favour of adopting the Constitution. I call for it to be ratified and I am committed to the campaign for it to be implemented.

 
  
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  Ferreira, Anne (PSE), in writing. (FR) I abstained from voting on this report for several reasons.

To begin with, I cannot vote in favour of this resolution because my criticisms of the Constitution outnumber by far the very few aspects of it which could be regarded as slight progress.

In addition to my grave doubts regarding the construction of a social and political Europe, my most serious criticism relates to the fact that the task of a constitution is to allocate powers and to outline citizens’ rights and duties. The policies and ideological choices set out in the Constitutional Treaty have no place in a constitution, and they preclude any possibility of different policies being implemented.

Furthermore, only one goal was pursued in the drafting of this report, namely that nothing but the positive and ‘progressive’ aspects of the Constitution be mentioned. This exclusion of all criticism, no matter how minor, stands in stark contrast to the reservations voiced by this House when the previous resolution on the Intergovernmental Conference was adopted.

I am not convinced that either this resolution or this Treaty will make it possible to involve our fellow citizens more in European integration, or to respond to their calls for justice, equality and democracy.

 
  
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  Figueiredo (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) Today’s vote in Parliament on the draft of the new Constitution is part of the sad process of obfuscation and propaganda surrounding the so-called European Constitution; this is, in a word, manipulation.

Parliament has no legitimacy whatsoever to ‘adopt’ Treaties, as Point 6 of this resolution would have us believe. Disingenuously and in collusion, most of Parliament’s right wing, the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats) and European Democrats, and social democrats, the Socialist Group in the European Parliament, are thus seeking to spread the false idea that the draft Treaty has been ‘adopted’ by Parliament – as some media organisations will erroneously report before, let us not forget, any national referendum on this draft has been held.

The intention is clear: to use today’s vote as yet another means of exerting pressure and spreading propaganda in favour of the loathsome so-called European Constitution in the process of its ratification – or rejection! – by the Member States. In other words, it is an attempt to interfere in an area in which the Member States have sole competence.

It is disgraceful that this vote was accompanied by music being played, by balloons being let off and by banners and flags being unfurled ‘with the above-mentioned key words and ‘yes’ in various languages’, thereby silencing any criticism of this draft.

 
  
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  Fruteau (PSE), in writing. (FR) The Corbett report, upon which the European Parliament gave its verdict today, acknowledges the indisputable progress made by the Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe.

The Treaty provides us with a number of tools that are essential if we wish to make Europe more efficient, easier to understand and more democratic. It does so by clarifying the roles of the institutions, reducing the scope for blocking decisions and increasing the powers of the European Parliament and of its representatives, who have been elected by popular vote.

At the same time, it fosters Community solidarity and helps ensure genuine cohesion within the EU.

Firstly, it helps ensure social cohesion thanks to the Charter of Fundamental Rights, which lays down rules relating to civic, political and social rights. The Treaty also declares Europe’s objectives to be a social market economy, sustainable development and the fight against discrimination.

Secondly, it helps ensure territorial cohesion by means of a set of provisions that will help the EU’s regions to manage their own development. The Treaty reiterates the specific nature of the UPRs, and more particularly that of the French overseas territories. By consolidating the mechanisms under which derogations may be granted from Community rules, it provides real protection for the overseas territories, thus counteracting a destructive mindset that regards Europe as a uniform and homogenous territory.

(Explanation of vote abbreviated in accordance with Rule 163 of the Rules of Procedure)

 
  
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  Gollnisch (NI), in writing. (FR) What we are voting upon today is not a report but an act of faith, and an act of bad faith at that. Contrary to what the rapporteurs have said, this text creates a centralised, omnipotent and totalitarian super-state that lacks an identity and a soul.

It will be a centralised state because every decision will be taken in Brussels, whatever field it may apply to, and all these decisions, whether legislative or not, and whether they concern national or local issues, will have to comply with European legislation and the sole interest of the EU. The principle of subsidiarity will be held up to ridicule, as it has been for the past 12 years.

It will be an omnipotent state because the European Union will have jurisdiction over every area, without exception, and all policies are or will be communitised.

It will be a totalitarian state because the real power will reside with a handful of officials, namely the Commission technocrats, who hold a monopoly over legislative initiative, and the Luxembourg judges, who are the overzealous inspectors of pro-European orthodoxy. What they have in common is that they are not subject to any kind of democratic control after their appointment.

Finally, it will be a state lacking a soul and an identity, as it will turn its back on its Helleno-Christian roots and agree to Turkey’s integration, despite the public’s opposition, and will believe only in globalisation, competition and the market.

I shall therefore vote against, both today and in the referendum to be held in my country.

 
  
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  Goudin, Lundgren and Wohlin (IND/DEM), in writing. (SV) We have voted against this report. Our definitions of ‘subsidiarity’ and ‘superstate’ clearly differ from those of the rapporteurs. We define subsidiarity in terms of political decisions having to be taken as close to the people as possible and in terms of its being the national parliaments and not the EU institutions that determine which issues are to be decided upon at which level.

Our definition of a superstate is an EU state in which the Council as a rule takes decisions on a qualified majority basis, in which not all the Member States are represented in the Commission and in which the European Parliament has the right of codecision on all issues. The EU is thus no longer a federation of states, which is what we believe it should be, but a federal state.

A common foreign and asylum policy, a rapid reaction force designed to intervene elsewhere in the world and an EU budget increased through the EU’s being given the right of taxation are among the factors that extend the exercise of political power by this ‘superstate’.

This draft Constitution should be replaced by a new draft intergovernmental Treaty that gives central place to the national parliaments’ political responsibility. Religious issues must not be among those dealt with in texts of EU treaties.

We protest about the fact that, in connection with the reading of this report, the majority in the European Parliament is to invest EUR 340 000 of taxpayers’ money in a spectacle to launch the ‘yes’ campaign for the adoption of the ‘EU Constitution’ by the Member States.

 
  
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  Hedh (PSE), in writing. (SV) I have chosen to differ from my political group and shall vote against the report on the Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe. I believe that the draft Constitution entails the EU’s going from being a form of intergovernmental cooperation based on treaties to being a state based on a Constitution. I believe that it strengthens the precedence of EU law over national law, removes more power from the Member States and gives the larger countries more power than the small countries. These are things to which I object.

I voted in favour of Sweden’s becoming a member of the EU in the 1994 referendum, and I am sincerely in favour of the idea of international cooperation in solving common problems. There are important tasks we must perform together, especially where the environment, human trafficking and social dumping are concerned. I am, however, opposed to the present trend towards increased supranationalism in the EU. I wish to see European cooperation at intergovernmental level.

 
  
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  Hudghton (Verts/ALE), in writing. I voted against this report in the final vote. I did so principally because I believe that the inclusion of marine biological resource conservation as one of only five exclusive competences of the EU is not only unnecessary, but in fact anomalous and unjustified. The fact that this Parliament's Fisheries Committee almost unanimously supported that view in its opinion reflects a strongly held point of view in Scotland's fisheries dependent communities.

This is yet another example of failure on the part of a Westminster Government to act in the best interests of fishing communities, and will undoubtedly motivate many voters in Scotland to vote for rejection of the Constitutional Treaty in a referendum.

 
  
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  Isler Béguin (Verts/ALE), in writing. (FR) If it were left to the Greens, the draft Constitution would be a good deal more ambitious than the one we have been presented with. It would enable us to give practical form to the political, social and ecological Europe that we advocate. Such a draft would be without ambiguities or uncertainties as to its objectives; it would not have this third part which, doing nothing more than recapitulating previous treaties, is in contradiction to a global and ambitious project for Europe. Despite its imperfections, I shall be voting in favour of the draft Constitution, and I urge others to do likewise, for it would be a great aberration and major political error to go over to the ‘no’ camp simply because the final document is not equal to the demands made of it.

More than ever, we need Europe, imperfect though it may be.

A Constitution will enable us to launch this peaceful Europe as the custodian of such shared values as human rights and democracy. This great act will enable the European public to feel themselves united in a truly common design. The ‘yes’ I shall say by voting in favour of the Corbett report is the ‘yes’ of a militant.

To fail in this historic moment would be to negate our own labour as builders of Europe and would for a considerable time put the brakes on the ambitious development of the European project that we wish to see …

(Explanation of vote abbreviated in accordance with Rule 163 of the Rules of Procedure)

 
  
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  Kristensen (PSE), in writing. (DA) The EU could operate perfectly well with one Commissioner per country. Now that the European Council has, however, decided to reduce the number of Commissioners from 2014, it is important that we stick to the principle of fair rotation between the Member States.

 
  
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  Lang (NI), in writing. (FR) Mr President, this Constitution, which claims to be European, is in fact an anti-European document, destroying as it does the foundations of Europe: its nations, which will lose their sovereignty for good, and the values of its civilisation, both Graeco-Latin and Christian.

There is nothing trivial about the omission of any reference to these: it was necessary in order to make the accession of Muslim Turkey acceptable. It is evident that there is a causal connection between the European Constitution and the entry of this Asian country, contrary to what President Chirac tells us.

Once the Constitution is adopted, it will not only facilitate Turkey’s accession, but will also give it – the most populous state in the European Union – the most MEPs and the most votes in the Council, giving it pre-eminence and superiority over France and Germany.

When President Chirac tells us that the French people will be able give their judgment on Turkish accession in 2014, he is lying; it will be too late. The referendum on the Constitution will be held in a few months’ time, just before negotiations on accession begin. If they vote ‘no’, the French people will also be saying ‘no’ to Turkish entry.

 
  
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  Le Pen, Jean-Marie (NI), in writing. (FR) This text, submitted to us as a Constitution for Europe, is the result of a misbegotten compromise in which all Europe’s social democrat governments have surrendered their peoples’ sovereignty to a supranational body.

This Constitution organises a state with the appearance of unity, hiding the federalist mechanisms within it. It is a hybrid organisation which, by making its mind known on every subject, and interfering in every area, enforces political choices that have tragic consequences for the future of the European peoples. It also represents the culmination of a slow and progressive process of political and legal stratification and the institutionalisation of a new totalitarian organisation. The Europe that is coming into being distances itself further from its citizens by impoverishing their societies.

These peoples are treated with contempt, and each consultation, be it parliamentary or in the form of a referendum, will ratify and confirm policies that are in fact already being implemented. By using the choice between Europe and chaos, itself a low form of extortion, and designed to force the hand of sovereign peoples, this Constitution’s supporters flout the basic rules of democracy.

We will not fall into the trap that this Europe represents, and we intend to denounce it at the forthcoming referendum in France. We can have another Europe – the Europe of free peoples and sovereign nations.

 
  
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  Libicki (UEN), in writing.  (PL) The report under discussion recommends that the EU Member States ratify the European Constitution. I had no hesitation in voting against this report, for a number of reasons.

It is out of place for the European Parliament to recommend that the Member States ratify or reject the Treaty, as final decisions on this matter and completion of the ratification process fall under the exclusive jurisdiction of the sovereign national authorities designated for this purpose.

How one views this so-called European Constitution is an entirely separate issue. In my opinion, ratification of this Constitution would not further either Poland’s or Europe’s interests.

I have repeatedly noted how inappropriate it is for there to be no reference to God or the Christian tradition in the preamble to the Treaty. The lack of any such reference means that the truth about our continent’s history is blatantly ignored.

A further point of contention is the revision of the Treaty of Nice, which has not even been given the chance to prove itself in practice. The provisions of this Treaty on weighted voting within the European Council, which would have been to Poland’s benefit, have been watered down by the Constitutional Treaty, without their influence on the functioning of the Communities having been assessed in any way.

Furthermore, I have concerns regarding a number of other provisions in the so-called European Constitution, for example increasing the unjust privileges granted to the eastern Bundesländer of the Federal Republic of Germany under previous treaties.

 
  
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  Liotard (GUE/NGL), in writing. (NL) While the European Parliament has not yet pronounced upon the draft Constitution, a festive party is already being thrown at the cost of EUR 375 000 to celebrate its approval, thereby illustrating yet again that the two prejudices about Europe – those being that it is undemocratic and wastes money – are wholly justified.

My group is opposed to this Constitution for a number of reasons. We denounce the neo-Liberal and socio-economic component in it which, under the guise of ‘free trade’ undermines public services and denies national and local authorities the right to determine for themselves how they want to organise their public services. We are strongly opposed to the militarisation of Europe that is apparent in the Constitution, including in the paragraph obliging Member States to increase their defence budgets. We reject this Constitution, because it reinforces the Union’s undemocratic structure and does not do a great deal to improve it.

Some of my fellow Members may be prepared to sell their souls to neo-Liberalism for a handful of extra parliamentary means of power, I do not intend to do so. Where democracy is concerned, only the best is good enough, and I therefore refuse to support this Constitution, which is for the benefit of the European elite, the multinationals, warmongers and bureaucrats.

 
  
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  Manolakou (GUE/NGL), in writing. (EL) The Constitutional Treaty or so-called Euro-constitution codifies the previous treaties, strengthening the privileges and profits of big business and further developing the culture of the arming and militarisation of Europe. These are measures to arm the plutocracy, which will exacerbate social and class antagonisms and bring new trials and tribulations to the people. That is why the peoples of Europe should throw out the 'Euro-constitution' and step up their fight against the reactionary policy of the ΕU.

The guilt of the EU is also clear from the unilateral misleading propaganda and misinformation on which it is spending huge amounts in a bid to gain the vote and assent of the workers, while at the same time using its guidelines to impose cuts in wages, pensions and unemployment benefits.

The presence in Parliament's motion of the highly reactionary Article 43 adopting the US doctrine of preventive war as civil protection from terrorist attack constitutes provocation. It is the pretext for big business to terrorise the peoples and plunder the wealth they produce.

We MEPs of the Communist Party of Greece shall vote against the so-called Euro-constitution and against any variation on it. There can be no progressive 'Euro-constitution' in the EU of big business and war and anyone cultivating such delusions is not helping to develop the fight against its exploitative policies and agencies.

 
  
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  Markov (GUE/NGL), in writing. (DE) Although there is, both in the Member States and in this House, general approval for this text, there is also a critical public that regards it with concern. In criticising it, we are not arguing from the restricted vantage point of the nation state.

What we criticise is that the treaty aims to further militarise the European Union to the point of enabling it to wage war on a global scale. It is intended to secure ‘operational capacity drawing on military assets’. The Constitution requires rearmament, in that ’the Member States are obliged to progressively improve their military capacities’, a process to be supervised by an ‘agency in the field of defence capabilities development, research, acquisition and armaments’, which will also implement ’appropriate measures to strengthen the industrial and technological basis of the defence sector’.

We are also critical of the way in which the principles of neo-liberalism are to be enshrined in the Constitution. The general ‘Objectives of the Union’ do admittedly gloss over matters by talking in terms of ‘a highly competitive social market economy, aiming at full employment and social progress, and a high level of protection and improvement of the quality of the environment, but the part that actually deals with policy then speaks in plain language of a commitment to the ‘principle of an open market economy with free competition’.

Far from reflecting this view, the draft report takes a completely uncritical view of the draft Constitution. The Confederal Group of the European United Left/Nordic Green Left cannot, therefore, endorse it.

 
  
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  Marques (PPE-DE), in writing. (PT) I should like to congratulate Mr Corbett and Mr Méndez de Vigo on their excellent report on the Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe. I should like to take this opportunity to highlight the important consolidation of the status of the outermost regions, which falls within the scope of the Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe.

Consequently, the Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe guarantees the exceptional nature of the status of the outermost regions, in other words, their horizontal/transversal dimension and the derogatory nature and the adequacy of the legal basis in the adoption of all measures specifically geared towards the outermost regions. I was also very pleased to see that the Intergovernmental Conference included reference to European law and framework law between legislative instruments enabling the adoption of measures to support the outermost regions.

 
  
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  Martin, David (PSE), in writing. I welcome this report by my good friends Richard Corbett and Íñigo Méndez de Vigo and their call for the Constitution to be adopted and ratified by all Member States. The Constitution will improve the transparency, effectiveness and efficiency of the Union.

In my own field of trade it will improve significantly the role of the European Parliament and therefore bring greater clarity and democratic scrutiny to a vital area where the EU has exclusive competence. This should enable NGOs, trade unions, commercial organisations and others to follow in more detail and to influence the negotiations leading to international agreements.

 
  
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  Meijer (GUE/NGL), in writing. (NL) Today, the advocates of the Constitution are celebrating. The European Parliament cannot amend the document’s wording, any more than can national parliaments or the voters who will take part in the national referendums. We can only approve or reject it, and celebrate or mourn that choice accordingly.

That makes it impossible to scrap the requirement for re-armament and for solidarity with NATO. It is equally impossible to make the free unhindered competition that the text glorifies subordinate to the environment, the provision of public services or the protection of labour. It is no longer possible to actually reward the collection of a million signatures of citizens, prescribed in Article 46, with a referendum. New social basic rights are lacking. The EU’s traditional authoritarian administrative model, boasting a strong role for the Council and the presidency, without any adequate means of correcting it by way of parliamentary democracy, is not up for discussion either. I do not want this Constitution. I do not want to be part of today’s festivities. In the Netherlands in the next couple of months, I shall be involved in the campaign of my party, the Socialist Party, to persuade a majority of voters to reject this flawed text.

 
  
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  Queiró (PPE-DE), in writing. (PT) The Constitutional Treaty is a compromise text that should be assessed for what it actually contains and not for what some – on both the federalist and the euro-sceptic sides – would like it to contain.

In view of the fact that in a globalised world Portugal has everything to gain from belonging to a regional bloc with the characteristics of the EU, there are aspects of this text, as in any compromise text, with which I agree and others with which I am not satisfied.

On the positive side, I should like to highlight the simplification that the unification of the Treaties has achieved, the clearer distinction between national and European powers, the strengthening of the role of national parliaments and the guarantee that the Union only has at its disposal the powers attributed to it by the Member States. Furthermore, the fact that this Treaty represents a moment of stabilisation in the process of revising the Treaties brings security and stability.

I do not agree, however, with the absence in the preamble of any reference to Europe’s Judeo-Christian heritage, the end of the rotating presidency among the Member States, the eventual reduction in the number of Commissioners and the creation of the potentially contentious post of European Minster of Foreign Affairs.

On balance, I have decided to vote in favour.

 
  
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  Ribeiro e Castro (PPE-DE), in writing. (PT) I have often criticised the break with the EU’s best practice, the source of its success: the ‘small steps policy’ of Schuman and the founding Member States, which is increasingly being trampled underfoot by a ferocious desire to stride forward, regardless of the feelings of the people. I should prefer to go down the European road of genuine unity in diversity, characterised by respect for the national democracies from which that road emerges, than to contribute towards the sham of a proto-continental State which few want to see, which the people did not ask for and which nobody has any real affection for.

I have no qualms about applauding the broad outlook of a European constitutional text. Yet once the people have been consulted, let us draw it up using fully democratic, participatory and representative processes, interacting with the public, in an assembly specifically elected for this purpose, as suggested at the Intergovernmental Conference. I am always dismayed by the climate of concealment and manipulation, the lack of loyalty to the public, the fact that often one thing is said and then something different is done and the blatant way in which the rule of law has been brushed aside – a sure sign that ‘anything goes’, so long as it goes in a particular direction. A glaring indication of this is the pompous declaration that Parliament ‘adopts the Constitutional Treaty’. This does not fall within our competences and to say it does puts us in a legally dubious position.

I had hoped for better.

I voted against the resolution.

 
  
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  Ries (ALDE), in writing. (FR) I do indeed endorse unreservedly the draft European Constitution, and it was with enthusiasm that I voted in favour of my colleagues’ excellent report. This draft is no doubt a compromise but it also represents a considerable advance.

The Union of 25 will be stabilised by having a President appointed for two and a half years instead of a presidency that rotates every six months. A Minister of Foreign Affairs will be Europe’s voice in the world. The Charter of Fundamental Rights has at last been incorporated into the institutional framework. The citizens enjoy the right of petition (capable of being translated into European law with the support of over 1 million signatures), and, in the social sphere, for the first time, the Union sets itself targets for shared progress in a social market economy.

In short, the European Union is becoming more democratic, more transparent, clearer and more effective. It may be, though, that the hardest task awaits us yet: to complete ratification in all our Member States, and hence to explain it in such a way as to persuade Europe’s citizens. I am also delighted that, in this nervous time for Europe, a recent survey reveals that the Belgian public are ready to go into battle for a ‘yes’ to the Constitutional Treaty; 80% of them are in favour of it!

 
  
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  Roure (PSE), in writing. (FR) It is a rare occurrence in anyone’s lifetime to gain the impression of living through an historic moment, and this Constitutional Treaty, I believe, sees us participating in writing a page setting out the Europe that we want.

This text sees us continuing the work of the founding fathers who wanted this Europe of 25 States – soon to be more – and dreamed of it.

This Constitutional Treaty makes of Europe’s humanist, spiritual and social heritage a foundation for the governance of our daily lives.

The Charter of Fundamental Rights acquires legal force and becomes binding on citizens.

Rules are made simpler, and increasingly resemble those with which we are familiar in our 25 democracies.

The Union will have a greater political role in the world, will at last be able to carry weight, and, I hope, will exert greater influence in the comity of nations in spreading abroad the ideal of peace which presided over its birth.

I voted in favour of the Corbett report, and will, in my own country, participate in the campaign in favour of the ratification of the text in a referendum. The train of history is pulling out of the station; let us take it together.

 
  
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  Silva Peneda (PPE-DE), in writing. (PT) The adoption of the Constitutional Treaty by this House is an historic moment given the role played by Parliament throughout the process.

As a Member of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs, I voted in favour, because I firmly believe that this represents a step forward towards consolidating the European social policy.

The citizens’ social rights emerge clearly strengthened due to the fact that the EU’s Charter of Fundamental Rights has been incorporated into the Constitution – recognition of the public’s place at the heart of the European project.

Economic and social cohesion has been reaffirmed as a key objective of the EU. New norms have been introduced as regards a high level of employment, the fight against social exclusion and discrimination, the promotion of social justice, social protection, equality between men and women and a high level of education and health, the promotion of sustainable development and respect for services of general interest.

The EU’s role on the international stage has also been strengthened, in the fight to eradicate poverty and in the promotion of sustainable development and fair trade.

Furthermore, new provisions will facilitate the participation of the citizens, social partners and representatives of civil society in EU discussions.

Following over half a century of European integration and numerous Treaties, the European Constitution is the one that brings by far the most visible and most practical benefits to the citizens of Europe.

 
  
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  Staes (Verts/ALE), in writing. (NL) The Corbett/Méndez de Vigo report does not give fair consideration to the pros and cons of the present Treaty, and can thus be classified as 'pure propaganda'. It fails to mention that too many areas of policy are still left to intergovernmental cooperation and that important areas are still subject to veto.

The role of the constitutional regions in the European decision-making process remains precarious. Part III of the Treaty makes it clear that the Union lacks social order and confirms choices in favour of the neo-Liberal model. The European Union is still too little in the way of a security union and is at risk of emphasising the deployment of military means in favour of conflict prevention. Since these observations are not included in the report, I have voted against it. That does not prevent me from campaigning in the next few months with Groen! in favour of ratification of the Treaty in the federal, Flemish and Brussels parliaments. After all, the Constitution is an enormous step forward and in the event of non-ratification, we will fall back on the provisions of the Treaty of Nice, which are less efficient, transparent and democratic than the present Treaty establishing a European Constitution.

 
  
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  Thyssen (PPE-DE), in writing. (NL) Mr President, it was with much conviction that I voted in favour of the resolution, and hence of the Constitutional Treaty.

I join with a large majority of the European Parliament in supporting the argument that we need to prompt the citizens of Europe, along with national and regional parliaments, into assuming a positive attitude.

I, too, take a critical view of the untruths that are being spread about this Constitutional Treaty.

The text, which is now to be ratified democratically, contains only steps in the right direction: it offers more scope in order to commit to those areas of policy in an open, transparent, democratic and effective manner where the Union can, and should, add value for the benefit of the public. It deserves all our support.

 
  
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  Väyrynen and Virrankoski (ALDE), in writing. (FI) We opposed the report by Richard Corbett and Íñigo Méndez de Vigo because we do not support the adoption of the European Constitution.

The Constitution would essentially transfer decision-making power from the Member States to the European Union. The focus of the exercise of power within the framework of the Union would move from intergovernmental cooperation to a supranational level.

A new treaty should be negotiated for the European Union, which should serve as a basis for its development as a federation of independent states.

 
  
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  Záborská (PPE-DE), in writing. The new Europe means survival because it rejects all forms of totalitarianism. We paid with our blood for our commitment to the European ideal of achieving freedom of thought, religion and conscience.

European integration, the way the 25 EU Member States function together and making the Community procedures work better must be improved and must progress, with care, little by little.

Asking simple questions about this ‘Constitution’ should not lead to accusation of being anti democratic; Understandable and credible answers are still needed.

Under this Constitution, the uncontrolled European Court of Justice will apply judgements directly and unequivocally to all Community institutions and bodies and the Member States. No constitutional lawyer has been able to show me where it is guaranteed that the Court will not infringe the various national competencies and policies.

Even if Parliament’s elected majority or the composition in the Council of Ministers changes, how can the EU major political orientation be changed when set out in a constitutional document requesting a double unanimity?

Finally, in refusing Christian heritage, the cultural short-sightedness of this Constitution is a worrying form of revisionism. Granted, the Treaty of Nice did not contain any reference to Europe’s Christian heritage; but it did not claim to be a Constitution either.

 
  
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  Batten (IND/DEM). Mr President, I have a serious complaint: about 15 minutes ago a peaceful protest was about to take place against the Constitution – a banner was to be unfurled. Two researchers belonging to the Independence and Democracy Group were physically assaulted – one was kicked and punched. The security staff who I believe were involved include Mr Zylka and Mr Dekhudt. I ask you to conduct a serious and immediate investigation into what happened.

We have had a one-sided debate here about the Constitution. An enormous amount of money has been spent; banners are being unfurled for the 'yes' side, but the 'no' side is not allowed a say; and when a peaceful process takes place, people are physically assaulted. This is totally contrary to the purportedly democratic principles of this institution.

I ask you to undertake an immediate investigation. You will receive a complaint in writing.

 
  
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  President. – All that will be forwarded to the relevant office of the House.

That completes the explanations of votes.

 
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