PositionBrief Article

Opposition is crystallising on the sensitive issues of Community responsibilities and monitoring of subsidiarity, but also (and most importantly at this stage in the drafting of the European Constitution) on the organisation of powers. The German centre-right parties, the CDU/CSU, like the centre-left SPD, defends the election of the President of the Commission by the European Parliament, where German MEPs dominate - and will dominate further still if the Nice Treaty is ratified -, whereas the Spanish People's Party, Forza Italia and the UMP, the party of French President Jacques Chirac and his Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin, are keen on the contrary to enhance the role of the European Council and its Presidency, a concept also defended by the UK Prime Minister Tony Blair. Following an informal dinner at his residence in Sardinia, Silvio Berlusconi said: "We raised questions such as whether Europe should have a President at the head of a Council made up of the different governments of Europe or a President per se".

Whatever formula is eventually chosen, Spain's Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar took advantage of the opportunity to outline his position and express his readiness to take up the running of the EU in 2004, following the end of the current legislature in his country.

Elmar Brok, the Chairman of the EPP delegation on the Convention - which numbers six MEPs and 15 national MPs - has in part taken account of the criticism already raised against the initial EPP draft, deemed to be marked excessively by the German concept of federalism (see European Report 2673 for further details). Thus in the constitutional paper he proposes to present for debate to his counterparts, the heads of the Socialist and Liberal delegations, Guiliano Amato and Andrew Duff, whilst the EU's responsibilities are clearly listed, the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) is now also explicitly included. In the...

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