IS THE EU CONSTITUTION A GOOD DEAL FOR SOCIAL EUROPE?

For all their bluster about preparing for a disastrous European Constitution, social NGOs have actually done rather well out of the political wrangling, so typical of EU Summits, that laid siege to Brussels on June 17 and 18. It is therefore unsurprising that they want Member States to ratify the agreed text as soon as possible - but this is going to be a tough battle to win.

Organisations like the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) may gripe and complain about trivial little points that could have been tidied up in the Constitutional Treaty - such as the lack of correlation between different parts of the text - but they also acknowledge that the outcome is better than they had hoped for.

In particular, the incorporation into the Constitution of the Charter of Fundamental Rights, previously a non-declarative document tacked on to the end of the Nice Treaty, was a hard-won coup for Social Europe. There are still a few niggling doubts about the interpretation of the Charter's legal scope - namely Article 52 or Part II, which includes some provisos, at the behest of Britain (see below), about how far the Charter can interfere with national legislation - but social NGOs hope that this won't dent the wider aim of a more socially-inclusive Europe.

ETUC General Secretary John Monks understands that the Constitution text is probably the best that could have been agreed in the current climate. If it is not ratified this time round, he says...

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