Europe needs a convention to prepare new EU constitution – Renate Künast

Renate Künast demands a convent to form a EU constitution (CC Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung)

Renate Künast demands a convention to form a EU constitution (CC Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung)

German top politician Renate Künast has demanded to form a convention to work on a new EU constitution.

Not only politicians but environmental activists, trade unionists and companies should take part in the talks, Künast, the chairwoman of the The Greens parliamentary group in the German Bundestag, said in a panel discussion at the London School of Economics and Politics.

“We can only take the next step, if everybody has a say”, Mrs Künast added.

The convention model was also used to produce a draft constitution for the European Union, which was rejected by French and Dutch voters in 2005. The convention’s members were drawn from the European Parliament, the European Commission, national parliament and governments, but did not include activists and trade unionists.

The SPD’s Dr Henning Meyer replied that at the moment not even treaty changes seem realistic, let alone a new constitution process.

‘Ever closer union’? – No, says Mario Draghi

The European Union is not on the way to become a federal ‘super state’, says the Director of the European Central Bank, Mario Draghi.

Draghi claimed that the phrase ‘ever closer union’ did not adequately capture the development of the EU, the Telegraph reported on its website.

The term ‘ever closer union’ is used by Euro-sceptics who fear that measures proposed by Brussels may lead to a loss of national sovereignty. The British Conservative Party, for instance, renegotiated several EU decisions it considered as reducing its national scope of decision-making.

Moreover, the Conservatives have announced to hold a referendum on the UK’s further EU membership in 2017 if they win the general election 2015.

It seems unlikely that Draghi’s speech at the Harvard Kennedy School will convince Euro-sceptics that measures like banking union do not lead to less national sovereignty.

With regard to this, Draghi said that it would make the monetary union “more robust” if the European Commission had the right to inspect national budgets.

“These changes do to some extent represent a transfer of power to the European level. But as with banking union, I do not view it as a loss of sovereignty”, Draghi admitted.

The Director of the European Central Bank might not consider this as an ‘ever closer union’. Euro-sceptics all over Europe, however, do.

Chief of ‘British FBI’ speaks up for Europol

Keith Bristow, chief of the National Crime Agency (CC Chatham House)

Keith Bristow, chief of the National Crime Agency (CC Chatham House)

Of course, the launch of the UK’s new National Crime Agency on Monday was accompanied by benevolent declarations. Home Secretary Theresa May and the ‘British FBI’s’ chief, Keith Bristow, reassured the public that the agency was prepared to tackle modern crime on a national level.

Besides the new police force’s PR activities, Bristow, however, made a substantial remark: He urged Home Secretary Theresa May to keep the UK in Europol.

Bristow said:

“I have made the case for staying in Europol. When the home secretary has sought my advice I have explained the capabilities that we need to have access to.

These are capabilities required for maintaining a crime-fighting organisation where we focus on serious organised crime. One of the key capabilities Europol gives us is the ability to share and assess intelligence. If we did not have that capability through Europol we absolutely would need it through another sort of approach. We must be able to share intelligence. We all know we live in an interconnected world where international borders are much less significant to people involved in serious organised crime.”

Home Secretary Theresa May

Sceptical about UK and Europol – Theresa May (CC UK Home Secretary)

In contrast to May, the National Crime Agency chief does not seem to consider sharing information with Europol as a danger to “national interests”. Bristow is one of several police leaders who oppose the government’s doubts about further participation in Europol and the European arrest warrant.