An alternative Proposal of the Parliamentary Group (Fraktion) Die
in the State Assembly (Landtag) of Baden-Württemberg
2.1 Permanent Intergovernmental Conference
2.2 Procedural Rules
2.3 Contribution of States and Local Councils
2.4 Decision making Structure
3 Institutional Reform
3.1 European Council
3.2 Second Chamber
3.3 European Parliament
3.4 European Commission
3.5 Competence of the EU
3.6 Principle of Subsidiarity
3.7 Stages Integration
4 Political Reform
4.1 Economic / Monetary Integration
4.2 Social Imperatives
4.3 Criteria for Monetary Union
4.4 Constrain EU Powers
4.5 Single Market and Globalisation
4.6 Financial Restructuring
4.7 EU failure to act
5.1 Rejection of the Single Market, of the Maastricht Treaty, of the EMU
In case of doubt the German text is valid
Wolf Krisch MdL / Dr. Peter Linder Parliamentary
The European Council, consisting of the heads of state or government of the Member States, resolved to set up a permanent intergovernmental conference at its conference in Turin in March 1996. One objective of this body is the presentation of proposals for the institutional reform of the European Union.
This is especially applicable in the light of the past expansion of the Union to include the present 15 members and the future handling of applications for accession.
The institutional structures and procedural rules of the Union were originally tailored to the needs of the 6 founding states. They today are scarcely adequate to meet current challenges.
It therefore seems appropriate to streamline existing structures in line with new requirements and thereby to give considerably greater weight to the institutional interests of the federal states and regions of the Member States.
The fact that, in Germany, the federal states and local councils are expected to make the decisive contribution to fulfilling the convergence criteria in itself provides grounds for the binding integration of the states and regions, as well as local councils, in the European decision-making process.
Existing structures do not allow for the involvement of the federal states, regions and local councils in the European decision making process.
European structures must be opened up to allow greater influence to be exercised by the federal states or regional bodies on EU legislation.
If involvement is to go beyond the right to obtain and furnish information or participation in consultative committees and if detrimental centralist developments are to be prevented, fundamental corrections to and reform of the decision-making structures of European institutions are required.
These must also be aimed at the strict separation of legislative and executive powers.
This can only be achieved if European policy is founded on the principles of the nation state however.
Proposals relating to this theme are contained in this paper.
The decision-making structure of European bodies is closely related to matters of political substance.
In this context it is clear that those political matters which, in Germany in particular, fall within the powers of the federal states, are being set aside by the regulatory fury of Brussels.
It is also quite apparent that excessive regulation in the spheres of industry and regional policy contrasts starkly with a massive failure to take action in other areas. This failure to take action is especially obvious in the areas of competition policy and overall home affairs and legal policy.
The findings of the intergovernmental conference, which were prepared by the reflection group, are thus of particular importance for the future standing and participation of state assemblies and regional parliaments, as well as of local councils, in issues relating to European integration.
Propositions for Institutional Reform
The position of the European Council of heads of state and government as the central decision-making bodies with regard to fundamental issues of political integration or the meeting of cabinet ministers (Council of Ministers) concerning issues of joint legislation respectively should be strengthened.
In order to make the decisionmaking process more efficient, the European Council should in future only consist of five permanent members from the "larger" countries with two rotating members from the "smaller" countries.
In order to enhance the continuity of policy for the federal states, regions and local councils, the presidency of the Council should only be changed every 2 years and should only be held by one of the five "larger" countries.
Decisions should only be taken by qualified majority voting.
A second chamber made up of members of the national parliaments should be established in order to strengthen the decentralised and regional elements in the community and to lend weight to the principle of subsidiarity.
The task of the second chamber would be to bring about institutional balance between the bodies of the European Union and thus to maintain the balance of power between the various decisionmakers.
A second chamber would also be based on the idea of "building Europe from the grassroots". To achieve this such a second chamber would need to be furnished with extensive powers and should in particular be the sole body entitled to initiate legislation.
The term "national parliaments" is meant to include the representation of all regional or local authorities.
The establishment of this second chamber with the element of a Regional Chamber would therefore be in the particular interest of those wishing to see the position of the federal states, regions and local councils strengthened within the EU. In order to make full use of potential national initiatives, the number of parliamentary representatives sent to the chamber should be weighted to reflect the respective populations of each country.
The number of representatives should be limited to 300 members.
The present status of the European Parliament should be retained and secured.
The number of members of this parliament should be limited to 650, even following future enlargement of the Community.
Consideration should be given to extending the areas in which the Parliament has the right of codecision, or to extending such rights to include all those cases in which the Council reaches a decision by a qualified majority.
It would also appear reasonable to extend the requirement to obtain parliamentary approval (right of veto) for changes to community treaties to resolutions relating to community funding. In addition permanent and comprehensive information, notification and consultative rights for the federal states and regions should be provided for in all parliamentary committees.
With the aim of improving representativeness, the ratio of seats allocated to representatives from the federal states and local councils in the Committee of the Regions, in which the codetermination rights of the territorial communities and authorities are currently mostly obviously practised, should be redefined to the benefit of the local councils. Regulations should also ensure that no seats in the Committee of the Regions are held by the representatives of regional governments but only by legitimately elected regional politicians.
The European Commission should lose its right to initiate legal action in the community. The Commission's executive and watchdog functions on the other hand should remain unaffected.
Correcting the legislative and executive distortions inherent in the present European decision-making process, along with the potential direct participation of state assemblies or regional parliaments, is fully in tune with the democratic imperative.
Limits must be set to the scope and composition of the Commission.
Consequently each country, regardless of its size, will nominate only one member to the Commission.
In order to ensure that further integration is carried out in a purposeful manner in consideration of future extended membership to eastern European countries, a document should be drawn up defining the range of powers lying in the competence of the Union which outlines the framework within which endeavours to achieve political integration may be made and which also clearly defines these versus national and regional functions.
This document should supersede the automatic supplementary clause ("Selbstergänzungsklausel") of TEC Paragraph 235.
The previous areas of decision-making and action should thus be maintained at the federal state, regional and local council level. At the same time this will increase the acceptance of the EU in all member states.
The principle of subsidiarity is of the greatest importance in the context of further integration and in the fundamental interests of the federal states, regions and local councils. The EU may not automatically take on functions which can be carried out at the national or regional level.
Decisive steps must therefore be taken to counter the creeping erosion of the sovereign rights of the federal states, regions and local councils. In order to implement this principle effectively the justiciability of such matters must be aimed for.
Establishing the right of regional and local authorities to take action before the European Court of Justice would be the correct decision.
The deepening and the expansion of the European Union do not contradict each other.
For this reason concepts of a staged integration or of a "two-tier" Europe must, from the point of view of the federal states, be rejected as leading to renewed divisions in Europe.
Propositions for the Reform of Specific Areas of Political Competence
Economic and social imperatives in the individual EU countries may not be subordinated to political action taken in the context of European economic and monetary union, as these only result in subsidy races and government intervention.
These in turn encroach directly on areas of policy for which the federal states, regions and local councils are responsible and thus limit the scope of the policy of subsidiarity.
In many cases the entry criteria for monetary union fetter national employment and social policy.
The unemployed and those receiving social assistance must not be allowed to become the working fund of the monetary union, otherwise Europe will be equated with poverty and social cutbacks instead of with prosperity
In addition, the social consequences of an ill-conceived, single economic policy lay burdens first and foremost on the federal states and local councils.
The capacity of state assemblies and regional parliaments to act must be maintained in the framework of European integration.
This applies in particular to forward-looking and creative infrastructure and regional policies which, according to the German Constitution, fall within the remit of the governments of the federal states.
In this respect provisions must be made to limit and constrain the EU's powers to supervise regional development assistance. The industrial policy being pressed by the Commission is in particular proving counterproductive to a regional structural policy based on the principle of subsidiarity.
Limitations on decision-making powers at the European level with regard to industrial policy would in the long run be conducive to integration.
The single market, globalisation and the structural changes following in their train call for joint regulations on competition within Europe. European competition policy may not however begin by controlling assistance provided in the context of regional economic development, but should rather start with the control of mergers between increasingly powerful production and trading entities.
Not only the final consumer, but the characteristically middle-class business community must be protected from a trend towards monopolisation which is threatening to engulf the economy.
The uncontrolled concentration of company power must not be allowed to counteract successful regional development policies aimed at medium-sized companies and local industry. The legal basis provided by the Treaty on European Union and the Merger Control Regulation have not as yet produced the hoped for results. In the medium term steps must be taken to establish EU Community Laws which enforce competition regulations in a restrictive fashion.
For this reason the creation of an independent, politically-neutral European cartel authority is regarded as indispensable.
Financial restructuring within the European Union after 1999 must maintain current sources of revenue. The assessment of contributions must be based on the proportional gross domestic product per head.
Further internal redistribution effects within the Community must be avoided from the point of view of the federal states, regions and local councils. The EU financial system must continue to enable the states and regions of Europe to follow their own individual, historically determined paths to development. A personal "European tax" is rejected.
In political areas other than economic and monetary policy the EU has demonstrated a huge failure to act in areas which are of utmost importance for federal states, regions and local councils. This applies in particular to reasonable joint immigration and drugs policies and their practical implementation.
Counterproductive measures in the fields of home affairs and legal policy such as the Schengen Treaty on the abolition of border controls must be subject to critical assessment.
As a result of parliamentary participation since ratification of the
Maastricht Treaty we cannot but conclude:
The Single Market, the Maastricht Treaty in the presently valid version and the proposed European Monetary Union must be rejected for political reasons, for economical reasons and for reasons of common sense.
It is however as parliamentarians our duty to actively improve or modify formerly made but wrong decisions.
The Stuttgart Propositions presented here prove our efforts to fulfil this claim.
We ask all political powers irrespective of ideology to join us in the efforts to improve the Maastricht Treaty and all related political decisions for the benefit of our people.
Wolf Krisch MdL
Fraktion Die Republikaner - Landtag von Baden-Württemberg