Politics

Barón Crespo: the European parliament has sacrificed as much as anyone

Article published on Dec. 12, 2007
Article published on Dec. 12, 2007
The EU parliament has withdrawn from the debate surrounding the latest reform treaty

Madrid-born Enrique Barn Crespo, 63, is representative for the European parliament’s intergovernmental conference (IGC), and one of the treaty’s biggest supporters.

With only three members of the European Parliament present, have European citizens been adequately represented in the IGC, or is there a lack of democracy in its workings that could lead to its public failing?

Agreeing to the new treaty shows a conscious political sacrifice on the part of the European parliament, in order to overcome the crisis in which the European Union has found itself since 2005. Given this, I can guarantee you that the European parliament has strengthened the working-practices of the 2007 intergovernmental conference.

Do you not consider it antidemocratic to ratify such an important treaty, without first putting it to a wider public vote?

All members of national parliaments are elected democratically by their own people. The two methods of treaty ratification are both democratic and legitimate.

If the new treaty is accepted and ratified, will the European parliament gain new powers, thereby making Europe itself a little less democratic?

The co-decision procedure is gaining ground (as was proposed by the constitution). It is fast becoming the norm with regards to legislative procedures. The European parliament will now be co-legislator with the European Council for 95% of all European Union legislation, thereby increasing the democratic legitimacy of EU law.

The new budgetary process guarantees a clear balance between parliament and council with respect to the approval of the multiannual financial framework (the distinction between compulsory and non-compulsory expenditure will be abolished), which will gain legal standing.

The European parliament will elect a president of the commission on the proposal of the European council, and their powers will be reinforced. Furthermore, the nomination and appointment of the commission, including the appointment of the high representative for foreign affairs, will follow current procedures.

What tangibles differences will European citizens benefit from, should the treaty be ratified?

The idea of European citizenship has once again become the focus thanks to the demands of representatives of the European parliament. It now features in Article 8 of the Treaty on European Union (TUE). The Charter of Fundamental Rights is legally binding and will carry the same weight as treaties. This will be announced by representatives of the key three institutions on 12 December. The participatory democracy is being strengthened, in particular through the 'right of initiative' that allows millions of citizens across a large number of member states to ask the commission to adopt initiatives relating to certain areas.

Over the past few years, we have contributed a lot to this treaty. We are convinced that it is indispensable to the effectiveness of today’s modern Europe. With respect to the current Treaty of Nice, the reform treaty brings with it substantial improvements. It could become a useful tool. It now falls to us to assume responsibility for defending it during the ratification process across all member states.

(Homepage photo: poluz/ Flickr)