Convention on the Future of Europe shaping the future of Europe and Estonia
At the 2000 summit in Nice, the EU’s leaders laid the groundwork for the expansion of Europe with many necessary institutional changes. It was clear to all member states that it would be difficult to achieve unanimity and because of that expansion would be more difficult.
The declaration of the summit in Laeken on December 15, 2001 contains a call to initiate the European Convention. Upon the agreement of EU member states, the convention will start discussing many larger-scale questions, such as simplifying EU treaties and adopting a European constitution, the appointment of a European Commission president, division of responsibility between the EU and member states. The participation of national legislatures in the decision-making process will ensure legitimacy and representation, which other structures cannot ensure. At the same time they are symbols of sovereignty for voters that would allow citizens to participate in political processes, including the forum. Here the role of national legislatures and especially the European affairs commission becomes of higher importance in informing the populace and developing debate.
There are 105 full members in the convention from 28 countries, 100 alternates and 12 observers. Former French president Valéry Giscard d’Estaing was elected president of the convention. Estonian parliament is represented by European Affairs Committee chairman Tunne Kelam and Riigikogu co-speaker Peeter Kreitzberg. Former Estonian president Lennart Meri was appointed government liaison. The first convention convened on February 28, 2002 in Brussels.
The main goal of the convention’s work is to write a foundation treaty or convention that would define the EU’s ultimate direction, including the division of powers, instruments and principles of the charter of fundamental rights.
Estonia supports the desire to complement the provisions concerning national legislatures in EU treaties and to intensify information exchange and cooperation between national legislatures and EU institutions, especially the European Parliament. The convention’s work so far has shown that national legislators have reached consensus that elected national representatives must have a louder voice and greater decision-making power in convention discussions.
From Estonia’s perspective, it is important, in the context of the convention and the context of the EU, to achieve domestic positions and agreements in a timely fashion through an effective coordination system; also, to actively disseminate positions that have been reached in the convention as well as subsequently in the corresponding institutions of member states and on an international level.