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Europe's New "Bill of Rights" - European Parliament Approves New EU Constitution

StoryNovember 22, 2004
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As the European Commission prepares its agenda for the next few years, Europeans are debating the merits of a new Constitution signed by its 25 member states. Next February 20th, Spain will become the first country in the European Union to hold a popular referendum on the Constitution. [includes rush transcript]

This past week, the European Parliament approved a new European Commission, headed by the EU’s new president, former Portuguese Prime Minister Jose Manual Durao Barroso. Durao is best remembered internationally for hosting the summit in Azores between President Bush, Tony Blair and Jose Maria Aznar that declared war on Iraq.

The EU vote ended a crisis that began three weeks ago when the majority of parliamentarians refused to back Durao’s choice of commissioners. He was forced to withdraw his list in order to remove his controversial choice for Justice, Freedom and Security, Italian Rocco Buttiglione. Buttiglione had publicly stated that homosexuality was a sin, and that a woman’s place was in the home.

As the commission prepares its agenda for the next few years, Europeans are debating the merits of a new Constitution signed by its 25 member states. Next February 20th, Spain will become the first country in the European Union to hold a popular referendum on the Constitution. The treaty, which amounts to a European bill of rights, was signed on October 29th by leaders of all 25 European Union member states and three candidate countries. The countries now must ratify it individually. Some, like Spain, plan to put it to a popular vote, while others will approve it through Congressional ratification.

  • Ramon Fernandez Duran, a representative of the environmental rights group Ecologistas en Acción.

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, Ramon it’s good to have you with us. Sorry, we have very little time. I know that’s not the Spanish style, but, you know, I’m from New York. So, in two minutes, you can describe your stand on this European Constitution?

RAMON FERNANDEZ DURAN: Okay. We think the European constitution is the construction of Europe as a political military superpower based on neo-liberal policies to support the interest of European capital. That is our way to see the European Constitution. The European Constitution, as you have said, has to be approved by the 25th — 25 countries. It’s going to be difficult process, and Spain is going to be the first country who is going to have a referendum. Only nine countries are going to have a referendum to approve the Constitution. We are going to be the first one. I think they are going to find that — to have a problem to having enough support in the population to vote. One of the main problems is the lack of interest of the European populations in the European construction. In the last European parliamentary elections, there were only 45% of Europeans who attended the voting. And perhaps this is going to be less in relation with the European Constitution.

AMY GOODMAN: Are you for or against the Constitution?

RAMON FERNANDEZ DURAN: Well, the movement, what we call the movement here, what we can say, the anti-colonization movement as a whole, there are two positions. One is against. They are going to vote no, and others are —

AMY GOODMAN: Why are they against?

RAMON FERNANDEZ DURAN: Well, because of these reasons I have said. They look to this project that’s a project of the European capital, the construction of the political and military Europe, to support the interests of the European capital and mainly the interests of Europe.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to have to leave it there, but we will continue to follow the story. Ramon Fernandez Duran, I want to thank you for being with us and thank the amazing team that’s making this happen here in Madrid, Spain.

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