Document 1261

Scottish Parliament: Research Briefings: SB 02-87 The Scottish Parliament and the Convention on the Future of Europe

Author(s): Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body

Copyright holder(s): Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body: © Scottish Parliamentary copyright material is reproduced with the permission of the Queen's Printer for Scotland on behalf of the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body.


SPICe Briefing 02/87
9 August 2002


This briefing considers the work of the Convention on the Future of Europe since its inaugural meeting on 28 February 2002. It explains why the Convention was set up by the Laeken European Council in December 2001 and discusses the implications of its work for the Scottish Parliament. The briefing also highlights opportunities for the Scottish Parliament to engage in the debate on the Future of Europe.


The Laeken Declaration ... 3

PART TWO: THE CONVENTION – debating the future of Europe ... 5
‘Listening Phase’ ... 6
‘Study Phase’ ... 6
Final Phase ... 6
Working Groups ... 7

PART THREE: Scottish Parliament Engagement ... 7
The position of the Scottish Parliament on the future of Europe debate ... 8
The response of the Scottish Executive ... 9
Options for the Scottish Parliament to Influence the Debate ... 10
The European Committee ... 11




The Convention on the Future of Europe opened in Brussels on 28 February 2002. It was established by the European Council at Laeken in December 2001, to prepare the next meeting of EU leaders in the Intergovernmental Conference in 2004 with as broad and wide-ranging debate as possible on the future development of the European Union (EU). The main purpose of the Convention is to consider possible changes to the EU’s treaties and working methods of the EU institutions after the Union enlarges to take in ten new Member States from Central and Eastern Europe in 2004 (1).

The Convention (2) is a unique arrangement and differs radically from past approaches used to negotiate new EU treaties, such as Maastricht in 1992, Amsterdam in 1997 and Nice in 2000. In each of these cases negotiations were carried out by EU Heads of Government behind closed doors and then presented to the public as a fait accompli. There was no attempt before the relevant Intergovernmental Conference (IGC) was held to involve other parties, such as national parliaments, in the preparatory political work or to encourage a wider debate on the future shape of Europe.

At Nice in December 2000, Member State governments agreed that an Intergovernmental Conference should be convened in 2004 to tackle issues on reforming the EU’s institutions and its working methods in preparation for the enlargement of the EU from 15 to 25 Member States. Europe’s leaders recognised that the EU was no longer working and that if the Union was to continue, reform of the EU’s institutions and its working methods was essential to ensure the Union did not grind to a halt and be incapable of taking decisions.

A Declaration on the Future of Europe was appended to the Nice Treaty calling for a deeper and wider public debate about the future institutional development of an enlarged Union to precede the IGC.

The Laeken Declaration

At Laeken in December 2001 a declaration was agreed on the future of the European Union. In the Laeken Declaration Member States agreed to set up the stability and prosperity for much of the European continent and the creation of a single market.

The Declaration recognises that one of the key problems facing the Union is growing public disenchantment with the EU and the widening gap between the EU institutions and the citizens. This problem is not new as evidenced by the crisis surrounding the ratification of the Maastricht Treaty in the 1990s (3), declining levels of electoral turnout at successive European elections and the rejection in a referendum by the Irish electorate of the Treaty of Nice in June 2001.

An underlying problem is the apparent lack of public interest in, and understanding of, the EU. Recent successive EU-wide Eurobarometer opinion polls show the extent to which people do not feel well informed about the EU, its policies and its institutions. In these surveys, British citizens are the least informed of the other Member States about the EU’s work and are also the least supportive of the EU (4). The importance of informing and involving the people is highlighted further by the fact that many Irish voters rejected the Nice Treaty simply because they did not know what the Treaty was about.

The Laeken Declaration recognises that many people do not see any connection between action taken by the EU and its relevance to people’s everyday concerns. It stresses that the EU institutions must be brought closer to its citizens and made more relevant by focusing on practical issues that affect the daily lives of ordinary people, such as employment, crime, the environment. The Declaration also acknowledges the public perception of Europe being remote, too bureaucratic and its working methods too incomprehensible to understand who does what and who is accountable to whom.

The Laeken Declaration outlines the key issues the European Convention will consider for the future development of the Union. For example, what do citizens expect from the Union? How is the division of powers between the EU and its Member States to be organised (i.e. who should do what)? How can the treaties be simplified and made more comprehensible for people to understand who does what and at what level? How can the democratic legitimacy and transparency of the institutions be increased, e.g. should citizens be able to directly elect the President of the European Commission? Should national parliaments play more of a role in EU matters? The various questions posed in the Laeken Declaration are detailed in the appendix.


The European Convention is part of a historic turning point in the development of the EU and is unique in that never before has a Convention of this nature been called to prepare the way for radical change in the EU and its biggest ever enlargement. It is hoped that the Convention will encourage a wider debate and will allow the widest possible range of voices to be heard as the first proposals for reshaping Europe are prepared.

The Convention meets in the premises of the European Parliament in Brussels in public and is open to all (5).

The Convention comprises government ministers, representatives of national parliaments from all current Member States and the accession candidate countries, MEPs and Commissioners. Representatives from the Committee of the Regions, the Economic and Social Committee and the Social Partners have observer status only. The Convention has 105 full members. Its President is Valery Giscard d’Estaing (former President of France 1974 – 1981). The former Italian and Belgian Prime Ministers Mr Giuliano Amato and Mr Jean-Luc Dehaene are the two Vice-Chairmen. The Convention has a Praesidium of 12 members. This acts as a steering group for the Convention as a whole.

British members of the Convention are the Labour MP, Gisela Stuart, who is also a member of the Praesidium, and the Conservative MP, David Heathcoat-Amory. Lord MacLennan of Rogart (Liberal Democrat) and Lord Tomlinson (Labour), former MEP are alternate members. All 4 represent the UK Parliament. The UK Minister for Europe, Peter Hain, represents the UK Government. His alternate is Baroness Scotland of Asthal, Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor’s Department. Professor Sir Neil MacCormick MEP and Councillor Keith Brown (leader of Clackmannanshire Council) are alternate members on the Convention as part of the delegations from the European Parliament and the Committee of the Regions respectively (6).

The Convention began its work on 28 February 2002. There are three phases in the Convention’s work. The first phase is a period of listening in order to find out what people expect and want from the EU. This was concluded at the 11 – 12 July plenary session. Phase two (autumn 2002) will examine and analyse the various ideas for reform in depth. Phase three (autumn 2002/spring 2003) will draw up recommendations and the final proposal.

‘Listening Phase’

During the ‘listening phase’ the Convention met seven times in order to find out what people want and expect from the Union. The plenary debates from the inaugural meeting on 28 February 2002 through to May have been general in nature and focused on the role and tasks of the European Union and the distribution of powers between the EU and its Member States. The Convention meeting in June and July focused on the specific issues of justice and home affairs, the role of the national parliaments and EU foreign policy and defence.

At the end of June the Convention held a debate with the Civil Forum. The Convention’s view is that in order for the debate to be broadly based and involve all citizens, a Forum should be opened during the Convention for organisations representing civil society (the social partners, business, non-governmental organisations, think tanks, academia, etc.) (7). This takes the form of a structured network of organisations receiving regular information on the Convention’s proceedings and which input into the debate. Such organisations can be heard or consulted on specific topics in accordance with arrangements established by the Praesidium.

In parallel to the Civil Forum, the Convention organised a European Youth Convention, which met in Brussels from 9 to 12 July 2002 and enabled young people from across the EU to have their say. The Youth Convention adopted a text setting out the various views of the young people (8). This was presented to the full Convention meeting

‘Study Phase’

The Convention is gathering pace. The ‘listening phase’ is now over and the ‘study phase’ will begin in September. This period of analysis is expected to conclude at the end of 2002. It will analyse the results of the working groups. At its 12-13 September session the Convention will discuss the simplification of legislative procedures and during the 3-4 October session the Convention will discuss the results of the working group on subsidiarity.

Final Phase

The final phase will seek to draw together the different proposals and draft recommendations. There is some disagreement among Convention members about whether the Convention should produce a single document or a series of options, which would then be submitted to the IGC in 2004. The final document will provide a starting point for discussions in the IGC, which will take the ultimate decisions. Some Convention members have also called for a first draft of a constitution to be drawn up by October (9).

Ambiguity remains over the timeframe of this phase. The Laeken Declaration states that the proceedings of the Convention are to be completed after a year, in time for the Chairman of the Convention to present its outcome to the European Council in March 2003. However, at the Convention session in June 2002 Giscard d’Estaing took the view that the final document could be presented at the European Council in Athens (under the Greek Presidency) in June 2003.

Working Groups

Six working groups were initially set up to discuss some of the issues on the Convention’s agenda in more detail, such as subsidiarity, the role of national parliaments, the division of powers between the EU and the Member States, the European Charter of Fundamental Rights, legal personality and economic governance. Further information about the remit of each of the working groups is provided in the appendix. The six working groups are expected to present their conclusions to the Convention in September and October. This may permit the drafting of a first outline of the structure of the new treaty during the second half of October or early November 2002.

At the 11 –12 July plenary session the Convention established four additional working groups on external relations, defence and security policy, simplification of legislative procedures and internal security and justice. These will begin work in September. A working group on the institutions should be launched in November. There had been suggestions for a working group on the regions to debate the role of devolved governance in EU decision-making. However, the Praesidium has decided against the establishment of such a group.


The future development of the EU is of direct interest to the Scottish Parliament. Although relations with the European Union and its institutions are a reserved matter under the Scotland Act 1998 for the UK Parliament at Westminster, the Scottish Parliament (and the Scottish Executive) is legally required by the Scotland Act to observe and implement EU legislation in devolved areas. Failure in Scotland to meet EU obligations in these areas can result in financial penalties. These must be paid out of the budget controlled by the Scottish Executive. The devolved responsibilities of the Scottish Parliament overlap significantly with EU areas of competence. About 80% of European legislation impacts on the day-to-day work of the Parliament and its Committees (10). Areas of overlap include fisheries, agriculture, forestry, environment, health, education, etc.

The various issues on the agenda of the IGC Convention are far reaching and are likely to have direct implications for the lives of ordinary people within Scotland. It is important that Scottish people and civic society are engaged in the debate, both domestically and at the broader European level. The IGC Convention provides the Scottish Parliament with an important opportunity to play a full role in ensuring Scotland’s voice is heard in the Convention and that Scotland is seen to participate in shaping Europe’s future (11).

The position of the Scottish Parliament on the future of Europe debate
On 28 February 2002 the Scottish Parliament held a debate on the future governance of the EU and what the role should be for Scotland (12). This was based on the 9th report 2001 (SP Paper 466) of the European Committee. The Parliament commended the recommendations of the report by the European Committee to the Scottish Executive. Some of the main recommendations supported by the Parliament include:

• Three of the four founding principles of the Scottish Parliament should be adopted as the foundations stones of EU reform, i.e. sharing the power, accountability, access and participation;
• The current EU Treaties should be simplified and rationalised;
• Serious consideration be given to the creation of ‘partners of the Union’ status for bodies such as the Scottish Parliament. Such status would include the right to establish direct contacts with the European Commission, privileged access to the European Commission as regards consultation on new legislation;
• Consideration should be given to the merits of a subsidiarity panel or the supreme court approach to ensure compliance with the subsidiarity principle;
• Constitutional regions with legislative powers should have ‘privileged’ or ‘semiprivileged’ access to the European Court of Justice in order to protect their prerogatives;
• Greater accountability of the decision-makers to their national and regional parliaments;
• Better standards for information flow between the EU institutions and nationalsub-national parliaments and their scrutiny committees.

The response of the Scottish Executive

In its response to the European Committee’s 9th Report 2001, the Scottish Executive agreed with many of the recommendations, such as the need for simplification of the Treaties, greater access to the European Commission through consultation at an early pre-legislative stage of its proposals, etc. However, the Scottish Executive has taken a different view from the European Committee and indeed the Parliament on the issue of subsidiarity. (13) The Executive favours a political rather than a judicial resolution of breaches of the principle of subsidiarity, i.e. any breaches should be dealt with by politicians rather than by judges in the European Court of Justice.

Speaking during the debate in the Scottish Parliament on the European Committee’s 9th Report (2001), the Deputy First Minister and Minister for Justice, Jim Wallace, MSP stated:

“To ensure that subsidiarity is properly applied, we have proposed the introduction of an independent subsidiarity watchdog. Although we have an open mind on the form that that body will take, our preference is for a political body, as subsidiarity is a political concept. That body should have the power to act before legislation is finalised and should have the benefit of a direct link with democratic structures. A system that is based on legal action would inevitably be retrospective and would almost certainly be much slower”. (14)

The idea of a subsidiarity watchdog was reinforced by the First Minister, Jack McConnell, MSP, in a speech he made in Scotland House in Brussels on 6 June 2002. The First Minister proposed the creation of a ‘subsidiarity council’, which he envisaged would give an authoritative view before European legislation is adopted. Its membership would be very small and could comprise those involved in the implementation of EU legislation, i.e. representatives of the national and regional parliaments (15). The First Minister also commented that subsidiarity is a political judgement rather than a legal one:

“I do not believe that the European Court of Justice could play this role, I cannot see it as an effective - or credible - subsidiarity watchdog. The principle of subsidiarity is that decisions should be taken at the lowest level of government consistent with effectiveness. Taking a view on the most effective level of government should not be a legal judgement. It is neither appropriate nor fair to ask judges to make such decisions. That is not their area of expertise. In addition, the workload of the Court means there would be an intolerable delay between challenge and response. While this could be improved by setting up a new section of the court dealing only with subsidiarity, this still does not meet my fundamental objection that this should not be a legal judgement. It is a political and administrative judgement about governmental effectiveness”.(16)


The following are a number of options where the Scottish Parliament could further participate in the debate for the Future of Europe:

1. Through alliances with other regional/sub national organisations
The Parliament has representation on the Committee of the Regions (COR), the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities in Europe (CLRAE) and the Conference of Presidents of Legislative Regions in Europe (CALRE). These can be instrumental in putting across the views of the Scottish Parliament on the Future of Europe debate. Other (non-regular) opportunities for participation at the European institutional/body level may be possible through the Assembly of the European Regions (AER), the Conference of Peripheral and Maritime Regions (CPMR) etc.

2. Through other multilateral bodies
The Scottish Parliament participates in the British Irish Interparliamentary Body and a debate on the Future of Europe has already taken place in that forum. This could be a useful UK/Irish medium to examine the progress of the Convention.

3. Through links with other regions/sub national states
The Presiding Officers of the Scottish Parliament have ongoing relationships with a number of regional and sub-national institutions, such as Catalonia and Flanders. Opportunities may arise for a discussion on the issues that confront the Convention. This dialogue could be developed and common positions agreed. By way of natural evolution, Presiding Officers may find it useful to engage in a more limited capacity with other regional/sub-national institutions, such as Tuscany and the Basque Region.

4. Relationships with European Countries and European Pre-Accession Countries.
The Future of Europe debate could be a worthy focus for the continuing relationship with Estonia and the visit of a Parliamentary delegation to the Czech Republic in autumn 2002. The Scottish Parliament’s participation in the ‘Scotland in Sweden Week’ could also be a prominent opportunity.

5. Civic organisations in Scotland and Europe
Civil Society is a useful platform to air the views of the SP on the Convention. The Universities have already taken a prominent lead in discussing the Future of Europe and non-governmental organisations have a vested interest in engaging in the Debate. Bodies such as the British Council may offer interesting approaches to the Scottish Parliament as a tool to ‘spread the word’.

6. Influential figures on the European Stage
The Presiding Officers of the Scottish Parliament are constantly entering into dialogue with a range of senior figures such as Heads of State, Members of the European Parliament (MEPs), etc. This has great potential to develop the discussion and raise awareness.

7. Through UK channels
The Scottish Parliament is in an advantageous position in that it can approach the Convention debate through a number of avenues within the UK. Dialogue with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), the Scottish Executive, Scotland Office and the other devolved assemblies may be appropriate to maximise the Scottish Parliament involvement in the Future of Europe.

In July 2002 the House of Commons established a Standing Committee on the Convention. The Standing Committee comprises members of the Commons European Scrutiny Committee and the Foreign Affairs Committee. Other members of the House of Commons and the House of Lords are also able to attend and participate. The UK Parliamentary Representatives on the Convention (Gisela Stuart, MP, David Heathcoat-Amory, MP) will report back to this Committee on the work of the Convention. The Standing Committee provides a mechanism for Westminster to input into the Convention discussions (17).

The Scottish Parliament’s involvement on the issue of Europe is primarily through the European Committee, which is a mandatory committee. The European Committee considers and reports on proposals for specific European legislation as well as wider EU issues.


The European Committee has been heavily engaged in the debate leading up to the creation of the Convention. It has also chosen, as part of its current work programme, to continue to engage with the issues the Convention discusses and to seek to influence its work through a variety of routes.

The first of these is through the UK Government and the UK’s representatives on the Convention. The Committee has extended an invitation to the UK Europe Minister, the Rt Hon Peter Hain, to give evidence on the UK’s views on the work of the Convention. It is hoped that this will take place in the autumn of 2002. It is hoped also that the UK’s parliamentary representatives on the Convention will attend. In a parallel development, it is likely that the Committee will invite the two alternate representatives from Scotland on the Convention, Professor Neil MacCormick MEP and Councillor Keith Brown to give evidence at a committee meeting in the autumn. This may coincide with invitations being extended to Albert Bore, as President of the Committee of the Regions (CoR), and other CoR figures.

To enable the Committee to have an up-to-date picture of views in Scotland, the European Committee has agreed to establish, on behalf of the Scottish Parliament, a Convention on 16 September 2002. This will be a public meeting, open to all, for the people of Scotland to come along and give their views on Europe and what it means to them. The Committee will specifically target young people and members of the general public, as well as civic society, NGOs, trades unions, churches etc.

The European Committee plan to send individual Members of the Committee to visit meetings of the Convention on the Future of Europe in Brussels and engage directly. The Committee is also attending various events across the EU to give its views on the debate, using the Committee’s 9th Report (2001) on the Governance of the European Union and the Future of Europe: What role for Scotland? as the basis of the presentations (18). These events include the Assembly of European Regions (AER) Plenary in Madrid (May 2002), and the Conference of Regions with Legislative Powers (Tuscany, November 2002) etc.

The Committee will also seek to formalise the growing links with the Catalan and Flemish Parliamentary committees, and establish trans-European network of regional-level European Affairs committees, extending out beyond the ‘European Affairs Committees’ of the Scottish, Flemish and Catalan Parliaments to other regions with legislative powers.

The European Committee plans to publish an update to its report on Governance/Future of Europe (9th Report, 2001), during autumn 2002. It is hoped that this new report might be debated in the Chamber and then formally submitted to the Convention on the Future of Europe.

Finally, the Committee will seek to engage with the First Minister and the Scottish Executive in his role as rapporteur in the Committee of the Regions for one of its main reports into this subject (19).


The Laeken Declaration presents a list of 54 questions. These are grouped under four main headings:

A better division and definition of competence in the EU
1. How can the distinction between three types of competence (the exclusive competence of the EU, the competence of Member States, and the shared competence of the Union and its Member States), be made clearer?
2. At what level is competence exercised in the most efficient way?
3. How is the principle of subsidiarity to be applied?
4. Should it not be made clear that any powers not assigned by the Treaties to the Union fall within the exclusive sphere of competence of the Member States?
5. What would the consequences of this be?
6. Does there need to be a reorganisation of competence in line with citizens’ expectations?
7. What missions would this produce for the Union?
8. What tasks could better be left to the Member States?
9. What amendments should be made to the Treaty on the various policies?
10. How should a more coherent common foreign policy and defence policy be developed?
11. Should the Petersberg tasks be updated (20)?
12. Should a more integrated approach to police and criminal law co-operation?
13. How can economic policy co-ordination be stepped up?
14. How can co-operation in the field of social inclusion, the environment, health and food safety be intensified?
15. Should not the day-to-day administration and implementation of EU policies be left more emphatically to the Member States and where constitutions provide, to regions?
16. Should they not be provided with guarantees that their spheres of competence will not be affected?
17. How can it be ensured at the same time that the European dynamic does not come to a complete standstill?
18. Should Articles 95 and 308 of the Treaty be reviewed for this purpose in the light of “acquis communitaire”? (21)

Simplification of the EU’s instruments
19. Should a distinction be drawn between legislative and executive measures?
20. Should the number of legislative measures be reduced: directly applicable rules, framework legislation and non-enforceable instruments (opinions, recommendations, open co-ordination)?
21. Is it or is it not desirable to have more frequent recourse to framework legislation, which affords the Member States more room for manoeuvre in achieving policy objectives?
22. For which areas of competence are open co-ordination and mutual recognition the most appropriate instruments?
23. Is the principle of proportionality to remain the point of departure? (22)

Increasing democracy, transparency and efficiency in the EU
24. How can the authority and efficiency of the European Commission be enhanced?
25. How should the President of the Commission be appointed: by the European Council, by the European Parliament or should the President be directly elected by the citizens?
26. Should the role of the European Parliament be strengthened?
27. Should the right of co-decision be extended or not?
28. Should the way in which members of the European Parliament are elected be reviewed?
29. Should a European electoral constituency be created or should constituencies continue to be determined nationally?
30. Can the two systems be combined?
31. Should the role of the Council be strengthened?
32. Should the Council act in the same manner in its legislative and its executive capacities?
33. With a view to greater transparency, should the meetings of the Council, at least in its legislative capacity, be public?
34. Should citizens have more access to Council documents?
35. How should the balance and reciprocal control between the institutions be ensured?
36. Should national parliaments be represented in a new institution, alongside the Council and the European Parliament?
37. Should they have a role in areas of European action in which the European Parliament has no competence?
38. Should they focus on the division of competence between EU and Member States, for example by checking if proposals comply with the principle of subsidiarity?
39. How can the Union set its objectives and priorities more effectively and ensure better implementation?
40. Is there a need for more decisions by a qualified majority?
41. How is the co-decision procedure between the Council and the European Parliament to be simplified and speeded up?
42. Should the six-monthly rotation of the Presidency of the Council continue?
43. What is the future role of the European Parliament?
44. What is the future role and structure of the various Council formations?
45. How should the coherence of European foreign policy be enhanced?
46. How is synergy between the High Representative and the competent Commissioner to be reinforced?
47. Should the external representation of the Union in international forum be extended further?

Towards a Constitution for European citizens
48. Should the distinction between the Union and the Communities be reviewed?
49. Should the division into three pillars be reviewed?
50. Should a distinction be made between a basic treaty and the other treaty provisions? Should this distinction involve separating the texts? Could this lead to a distinction between the amendment and ratification procedures for the basic treaty and for the other treaty provisions?
51. Should the Charter of Fundamental Rights be included in the basic treaty?
52. Should the European Community accede to the European Convention on Human Rights?
53. Could this simplification and reorganisation lead in the long run to the adoption of a constitutional text?
54. What might the basic features of such a constitution be? The values which the Union cherishes, the fundamental rights and obligations of its citizens, the relationship between Member States in the Union?

Working Group 1: Subsidiarity
How can compliance with the principle of subsidiarity be monitored in the most effective manner possible? Should a monitoring mechanism or procedure be established? Should this procedure be political and/or legal in nature?

Working Group 2: European Charter of Fundamental Rights (ECHR)
If it is decided to include the Charter of Fundamental Rights in the Treaty what should the procedures be for its incorporation and what would be the consequences. What would the consequences be of accession by the Community/Union to the European Convention on Human Rights?

Working Group 3: Legal Personality
What would be the consequences of explicit recognition of the legal personality of the EU, and of merger of the legal personalities of the EU and the European Community? Could these contribute to the simplification of the treaties?

Working Group 4: National Parliaments
How is the role of national parliaments carried out in the present architecture of the EU? What are the national arrangements that function best? Is there a need to consider new mechanisms/procedures at national or European level?

Working Group 5: Complementary Competencies (23)
How should ‘complementary’ competence be treated in the future? Should Member States be accorded full competence, or should the limits of the Union’s complementary competence be spelled out?

Working Group 6: Economic Governance
The introduction of the single currency implies closer economic and financial cooperation. What forms might such co-operation take?

Working Groups: Second Wave

Working Group 7: External action
How should the interests of the Union be defined and formulated? How should the consistency of the Union’s activities be ensured, co-ordinating all the instruments available to it (including development aid, humanitarian action, financial assistance, trade policy, etc.)? What can be done to ensure that the decisionmaking process allows the Union to act rapidly and effectively on the international stage? What lessons may be drawn from the experience gained from the creation of the post of High Representative of the Common Foreign and Security Policy? What amendments to arrangements for the external representation of the Union would increase the Union’s influence at international level?

Working Group 8: Defence
Apart from the Petersberg tasks, what defence remit could be envisaged for the Union? Since the Union has decided that it must have a genuine operational capability, including a military capability, what can be done to ensure that the Member States have the military capabilities needed to guarantee the credibility of the EU’s defence policy? Should provision be made for extending enhanced cooperation to defence matters? What can be done to ensure that decisions can be taken quickly during a crisis management operation? What can be done to ensure coherent planning of the EU’s crisis management operations? What methods should be used to ensure greater efficiency and economies of scale in arms procurement, research and development? Should the creation of a European Arms Agency be envisaged?

Working Group 9: Simplification of legislative procedures and instruments
How can the number of legislative procedures laid down by the Treaty be reduced? Could some procedures be simplified? How could the number of legal instruments referred to in the Treaties be reduced? Could they be given names, which indicate their effect more clearly?

Working Group 10: Area of freedom, security and justice
What improvements would have to be made to the Treaties in order to promote genuine, full and comprehensive implementation of an area of freedom, security and justice? In particular, what improvements would have to be made to instruments and procedures? What could be done, for example, to identify more clearly those criminal law issues, which require action at Union, level? How could judicial co-operation in criminal matters be stepped up? What adjustments could be made to the wording of the Treaty provisions defining Community competence, particularly for immigration and asylum matters.

SPICe Briefings are compiled for the benefit of Members of Parliament and their personal staff. Authors are available to discuss the contents of these papers with Members and their staff but cannot advise members of the general public.

1 The ten new Member States include Cyprus, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Slovenia.
2 The ‘convention’ method was used to draw up the European Charter of Fundamental Rights (ECHR) in early 2000. This met within a single body and involved the representatives of national governments and parliaments, the European Parliament and the European Commission. Representatives of civil society were also able to contribute to the debate on the ECHR. The Scottish Parliament is the result of preparatory work and debate in the Scottish Constitutional Convention (SCC). This met in 1989 and was composed of the political parties in Scotland (except the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party and the Scottish National Party), local authorities, the churches and many voluntary and other public bodies and organisations. The work of the SCC led to the publication of its final report in November 1995, Scotland’s Parliament, Scotland’s Right. This was followed by a referendum of the people in September 1997 and parliamentary agreement to the Scotland Act.
3 In June 1992 Denmark rejected the Maastricht Treaty on the European Union in a referendum. A second referendum was held on the Treaty in 1993 when the Danes voted for its ratification. In September 1992 France narrowly won its referendum on the Maastricht Treaty.
4 In the latest Eurobarometer 57 (spring 2002), 32% of the UK electorate polled said they thought the EU was a good thing and 32% said it was neither a good thing nor a bad thing. Asked whether they thought the UK had benefited from EU membership, 30% of the UK electorate said they didn’t know.
5 Information about the work of the Convention is available on the official European Convention website: Further information can also be found on the future of Europe website:
6 A complete list of Convention members and their contact details is available at:
7 The Civil Forum on the Convention has its own website, allowing individuals, interest group organisations, academia, think tanks, etc. to make their views known: The proceedings of the debate with civil society in June 2002 together with a copy of a digest of the contributions made to the Civil Forum prior to the debate are available on the Convention website. See, for example: and
8 A copy of the final text adopted by the European Youth Convention is available on the Youth Convention website at:
9 18 Members of the Convention submitted a motion for a decision on the preparation of a Constitutional Treaty to the Praesidium on 10 July 2002. See cover note CONV 181/02
10 The role of the Scottish Parliament in European matters has been outlined in a short pamphlet published by the Scottish Parliament on ‘Scotland and Europe’. This is based on a European familiarisation seminar that was held by the Parliament in February 2001. A copy of the pamphlet is available on the website of the Scottish Parliament at:
11 SPICe briefing paper 02/20 (25 February 2002) highlights the implications of the work of the Convention for the Scottish Parliament and Executive. It considers the Laeken Declaration and the role and composition of the Convention:
12 The Official Report of the Parliament’s debate held on 28 February 2002 can be found on the website of the Scottish Parliament at: - Col9785
13 Article 3b of the Treaty on European Union defines subsidiarity as:
" …the Community shall take action, in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity, only if and insofar as the objectives of the proposed action cannot be sufficiently achieved by the Member States and can therefore, by reason of scale or the effects of the proposed action, be better achieved by the Community."
14 Official Report of the Scottish Parliament, Meeting of the Parliament Thursday 28 February 2002 col. 9791 - Col9789
15 The proposal for a ‘subsidiarity council’ is modelled on the French Constitutional Council, whose role is to check compliance of approved legislation with the French Constitution before it came into effect. This is done systematically for any acts affecting the functioning of the institutions on referral by the President of France, the Prime Minister, the Speakers of the French National Assembly and the Senate and, since 1974, 60 MPs or 60 Senators in the case of ordinary acts. The Constitutional Council has 9 members, a third of whom are renewable at one time. It is a semi-political and semi-judicial body and, in practice is made up of prominent people who have been active in politics and or law.
16 A copy of the text of the speech given by the First Minister on 6 June 2002 in Brussels is available on the website of the Scottish Executive at:
17 The Standing Committee on the Convention met for the first time on 16 July 2002. A copy of the report of the proceedings of the meeting are available on the House of Commons website at:
18 A copy of the European Committee’s 9th Report (2001) is available on the Scottish Parliament website at: - rep
19 The First Minister is presently drafting an opinion for the Committee of the Regions’ Commission on Constitutional Affairs and European Governance on More Democracy, Transparency and Efficiency in the European Union.
20 The Petersberg tasks involve humanitarian and rescue tasks, peacekeeping tasks and tasks of combat forces in crisis management. The 1997 Amsterdam Treaty on the European Union brought these tasks within the scope of the EU’s Common Foreign and Security Policy. It made explicit the possibility of the EU participating in, or leading, a range of crisis management tasks.
21 Article 95 allows the Community to issue directives or adopt measures for the approximation of such laws, regulations or administrative provisions of the Member States as directly affect the functioning of the common market or which have as their object the establishment and functioning of the internal market. Article 308 allows the Community to “take appropriate measures to meet the aims set by the Treaties”. However, this article may not be used to extend Community competence beyond the framework established by the Treaties or to harmonise Member States’ legislation in fields in which the Community is prohibited from so doing by Treaty provisions conferring competence on the Community, e.g. Article 129 on employment; Article 151 on culture, etc.
22 The principle of proportionality refers to the scale or effect of a proposed EU action and is usually invoked to curb the accumulation of additional authority at EU level. Article 3b of the Treaty on European Union embraces proportionality by declaring that “any action of the Community should not go beyond what is necessary to achieve the objectives of the Treaty.
23 The Praesidium produced a note for the Convention on the delimitation of competences between the EU and the Member States. This distinguished “complementary competence” from “exclusive competence”, “concurrent competence” and “Member States’ competence”. “Complementary competence” is used to cover areas where Union/Community competence is limited to supplementary or supporting the action of Member States, adopting measures of encouragement or co-ordinating the action of Member States, e.g. economic policy, employment, education, development co-operation.

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Scottish Parliament: Research Briefings: SB 02-87 The Scottish Parliament and the Convention on the Future of Europe


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