[JURIST] British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende [official websites] Monday criticized efforts to create a new constitution [JURIST news archive] for the European Union [official website], saying in a joint press conference [transcript] in London that member states could be better served simply by amending existing treaties. Blair also expressed concern that an entirely new constitution might take power away from national governments and consolidate it into one "super state." Instead, Blair and Balkenende suggested a treaty to amend current agreements to clarify the division of powers between the European Commission (EC) [official website] and member states and to expand the role of national parliaments.
Currently, the European Union member states have a series of international treaties [EU backgrounder] that effectively function as the Union's constitution; efforts to codify these treaties within a single document have so far been unsuccessful. In 2004, EU member states signed the Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe [text], a draft constitution later rejected by French and Dutch voters. Earlier this month, EU leaders celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of the European Union by signing a declaration [JURIST report] aimed at revitalizing efforts to pass a European charter. The German government, which holds the six-month EU rotating presidency [German presidency official website], is expected to offer a plan for the adoption of a new constitutional treaty in June at the end of its term. BBC News has more.