Valéry Giscard d'Estaing

The EU's new treaty is the same as the rejected constitution
- only the format has been changed to avoid referendums, says Valery Giscard d'Estaing,
architect of the constitution.

in Le Monde and a few other European newspapers EU Observer 29.10.2007

In an open letter published in Le Monde and a few other European newspapers over the weekend, the former French president seeks to clarify the difference between former draft constitution - which was shelved after French and Dutch voters rejected the text in 2005 - and the new Lisbon Treaty which EU leaders agreed earlier this month.

"Looking at the content, the result is that the institutional proposals of the constitutional treaty … are found complete in the Lisbon Treaty, only in a different order and inserted in former treaties," Mr Giscard d'Estaing said.

The former chairman of the European Convention - the body of over a hundred politicians that drafted the 2004 EU constitution – suggests the new more complicated layout was only to avoid putting the treaty to a referendum.

"Above all, it is to avoid having referendum thanks to the fact that the articles are spread out and constitutional vocabulary has been removed," he says

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An early case was Valéry Giscard d'Estaing, a former French president who chaired the convention that drafted the constitution.
Mr Giscard d'Estaing publicly declared that the plan was to “camouflage” the big changes that his constitution had tried to set out openly.
“Public opinion”, he said, “will be led to accept, without realising it, provisions that nobody dared to present directly.”
The Economist print August 9, 2007

Valéry Giscard d'Estaing - The architect of the draft EU constitution
Leaders should not be afraid to tell citizens that they are essentially
trying to preserve the text of the constitution that was rejected by
French and Dutch voters two years ago

Writing in Le Monde, cit. by EU Observer 2007-06-15

Valéry Giscard d'Estaing, the father of Europe's new constitution, said that in principle he was in favor of referendums in all member states.
"The advantage of a referendum is to address the basic issue of distance between the people and the states," he said.
"If you have a big project like this, it should be normal to ask the opinion of the citizens."
International Herald Tribune 13/9 2004

Valéry Giscard d'Estaing, the father of Europe's new constitution, suggested that a key provision of the constitution, known as double-majority voting, could kill Turkey's effort to join because the country's projected population at the time membership talks could be completed, in 10 to 15 years, might exceed that of every other member state.
International Herald Tribune 13/9 2004

Valery Giscard d'Estaing, President of the Convention that drew up the European Constitution, has spoken out in favour of a referendum in France to ratify it.
Furthermore, he added, "the fact that a stable presidency is created for Europe, that a European Foreign Minister will be created, that there will be a common defence policy, that there will be a European Parliament with full legislative rights, all these are important changes that have a constituent dimension".
EU Observer 27/4 2004

In an interview with La Montagne, he said, "If you consider that the text, which stems from governmental agreements, is by nature constituent, then the natural approach would be to institute a referendum".

Giscard's gaffe
Financial Times November 11 2002
Valéry Giscard d'Estaing has put his foot in it, intentionally. The former French president and current chairman of Europe's constitutional convention has said admitting Turkey would be "the end of the European Union". So, he argued, the EU should ditch its commitments to consider Turkey a candidate for membership.

Det blir inte ett federalt EU om man med det menar en federation av amerikansk modell, "det är omöjligt" på grund av de kulturella skillnaderna mellan EU-länderna.
Giscard d´Estaing, DN 9/4 2003

- Och ingen i Europa vill ha en centralmakt som är så stark som det amerikanska presidentämbetet, säger han.

I slutet av april ska Giscard d´Estaing lägga fram de viktiga förslagen om EU:s gemensamma utrikespolitik ska organiseras och ledas i framtiden.

Konventspresidenten har nyligen lanserat idén om en "europeisk självständighetsförklaring" i Irakkrisens spår och som ett svar på att amerikanernas "reaktioner och uppträdanden" skapat sprickor inom Europeiska Unionen, där främst Storbritannien följt USA:s linje.

- Idén är att prioritera det som enar oss i förhållande till allt annat, förklarar han. På frågan om det finns länder i Europa som prioriterat annat än den europeiska enheten svarar han kort "ja" utan att vilja nämna vilka.

Tycker han att EU bör vara en motvikt till USA i världen?

- Inte riktigt en motvikt, snarare en partner på nästan jämställd nivå.

Valéry Giscard d´Estaing gillar inte en diskussion där stora EU-länder ställs mot små. Sådana motsättningar hörde man aldrig talas om förrän på 90-talet, suckar han. Men rotationen måste bort. På den punkten är han mycket bestämd.
- Idén är ju inte att utropa en president bara för nöjet att ge honom makt. Idén är att sluta med det roterande ordförandeskapet eftersom det destabiliserar unionen.
- Att behålla det systemet skulle ge EU 20 olika presidenter de kommande tio åren, och det skulle inte vara samma en enda gång, säger han.

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By Valéry Giscard d'Estaing and Helmut Schmidt
Time to Slow Down and Consolidate Around 'Euro-Europe'

International Herald Tribune, April 11, 2000

Just before the end of last year, the 15 heads of state or government sketched out their plans for the European Union. But they jumped too quickly and too far with one foot while the other foot lagged very cautiously behind.

In addition to negotiations with Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovenia, Estonia and Cyprus, they decided to start negotiations with Slovakia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Bulgaria and Malta. But they made no progress in preparing the Union to absorb this enormous number of members.

The need for institutional reform is urgent. Already, with only 15 member states, EU institutions are not functioning well. If they remain unchanged, they will become unable to function when the number of member states is considerably increased. And institutional reform will become even harder.

Haste to enlarge the Union can lead it into a sequence of severe crises in the first decade of the new century. It also may end up diluting the Union into a mere free trade area.

Such a distortion of the nature and the historically unique goal of the European Union might please some nationalists in several countries. Mainly, it would satisfy those in Washington who aspire to maintain some control over Europe in order to facilitate America's global geopolitical aims - and, sometimes, illusions.

At present, entry of the Polish, Czech and Hungarian nations into the EU - altogether 60 million people - deserves high priority. But the first priority must be institutional reform. Here is a field for political initiatives by members of the European Parliament.

Accession of Turkey, and extension of the future common foreign and security policies to the borders of Syria, Iraq, Iran and the Caucasus region, is, to say the least, not a priority.

In some cases, economic association would be more appropriate. It would be unwise to suddenly expose some fragile European states to full market competition with highly developed European enterprises; the fate of former East German industry is a lesson. It would also be unwise to invite millions of workers into Western Europe, where they might be tempted to stay because of wages five or 10 times higher than at home.

Europe's leaders ought to take these social and economic issues into account.

Now that the process of enlargement has been launched, it is clear that, over the next 20 to 50 years, Europe will develop along three different lines:

Organization of the European space, as defined by enlargement. This organization will address economic and free trade issues, accompanied by a limited level of political integration. The priority is institutional reform in order to achieve operability. Otherwise the system will collapse.

In this European space, members will keep under national command those matters that do not require common solutions or regulations. The principle of subsidiarity must at last become enforceable.

Organization of a European common defense. This process is well under way, now with active support from Britain. To be operational, it must be based on the countries which possess a significant military capability and on a public commitment to accept a mechanism of quick and effective decisions.

Addressing what remains of the initial ambition of integration. It is obvious that full integration is not a realistic goal for 30 countries that are very different in their political traditions, culture and economic development. To attempt integration with that many countries can only lead to complete failure.

The realistic option is integration for those countries which have the political will for it and whose economic and social conditions are nearly identical. At the moment, all such countries belong to the euro zone, whose population already exceeds that of the United States.

Will some of these countries embark on a new path, taking a federative approach? That would take an initiative by the founding members - France, Germany and Italy, plus Benelux - and some other willing and determined candidates.

For this process to be effective, it will need additional institutions: a council, a parliamentary structure that could have operational links with the national parliaments, but probably not a commission. In effect, these will be ''institutions inside the institutions'' that already exist for the EU.

The only constraint that could be imposed by the nonparticipating countries is that this new group - call them the ''Euro-Europeans'' - must respect all the commitments of the large European Union, and that the new institutions must not enter into conflict with the competence of the existing European institutions.

This new grouping could constitute a political entity on the European continent like the United States on the North American continent.

Leaders are mistaken if they believe that quick enlargement can paper over the problems left unresolved by the conferences in Maastricht and Amsterdam. They are also mistaken if they leave these leftover issues to a new intergovernmental conference without beforehand jointly establishing clear political guidelines for their diplomats.

Europe needs leadership by responsible persons who have the trust of their electorates, the will to state clearly their objective and the determination to again shape history.

This comment was adapted by the International Herald Tribune from a longer article distributed by the Los Angeles Times Syndicate.

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