[JURIST] European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso [official profile] has suggested in a speech delivered in the UK that a different name be used to enact the institutional reforms set out in the failed European Constitution [JURIST news archive], echoing a similar notion advanced earlier this year by German Chancellor Angela Merkel [official website in German, BBC profile] and EU foreign ministers [JURIST report]. Acknowledging the constitution's failure to gain support in France and the Netherlands [JURIST reports], Barroso ventured in remarks Monday that "[p]erhaps the grand finality of the word 'constitution' set it up as a hostage to fortune, both to inter-governmentalists who felt it went too far, and to federalists, who felt it did not go far enough." Instead, Barroso suggested, "A new institutional settlement for the EU should be seen within the same intellectual framework as the continued reform of existing EU policies."
The speech was aimed at rousing greater support for the European Union [official website] in Britain, and Barroso insisted to so-called Eurosceptics [Times report] that the EU was not "created by foreigners for the sole purpose of eroding the sovereignty of the United Kingdom," but was instead a "uniquely effective instrument" for developing solutions to "new cross-border challenges." Climate change, global poverty and increasing security were cited as among those challenges, and Barroso championed stronger institutions as a path to meeting them, because "the current set-up is less than optimal." Nevertheless, he conceded that "the nation state is, and will, I think, remain the principle source of political power, because it is to the nation state that most Europeans feel greatest allegiance." He went on to admonish the British for their reticence toward the Constitution and greater integration:
The UK's role in developing Europe is a vital role and the UK can take pride in its contribution. And yet it sometimes seems reluctant to do so. This may be because of your native modesty. But it will never work as a means of convincing the British public of the need for Europe. You will never persuade people to support an organisation which you pretend does not exist.Merkel had hoped to revive the constitutional debate during Germany's presidency of the EU in the first half of 2007, but admitted in June that no progress was likely to be made until 2008 [JURIST report]. The Guardian has more.