Constitutional and institutional development of the Union

These are the priority areas of research for the University Institute for European Studies ever since its foundation. Over the last years, and particularly from the signing of the Single European Act in the 1980s decade, the European Community has lived a continuous process of change, as a consequence of the constant enlargement processes and reforms of the treaties.

Although the institutional equilibrium designed by the fathers of Europe in the 1950s has been generally maintained, it is also true that over the last years we have experienced a constant institutional reform, both in the organisation, structure and obligations. Nothing has been excluded from the complex and prolonged institutional debate: membership and appointment of the Commission members, monopoly of the legislative initiative, voting system at the Council, formations and presidencies, the presidency of the European Council, participation in the European Parliament and national parliaments...

The institutional and political debate has been very interesting; although many people also consider that the Union has suffered an institutional internal absorption that has no interest for its citizens. For this reason, we could expect that as soon as the reform of the treaties predicted for 2009 enters into effect , we will experience a period of more stability, at least as far as these treaties are concerned. As regards the research of the University Institute for European Studies in this field, a constant follow-up of the constitutional and institutional system of the European Union has been done since the end of the 1990s.

This follow-up began within the framework of the research project “Horizon 2004”; and it was carried out with the support of the European Commission from the year 2000. At a later stage, during the negotiations of the European Convention which worked on the draft of the Constitutional Treaty, the Institute advised the representatives of the European Parliament, both from the Popular Party and from the Socialist Party, by means of a permanent seminar that was set up with this aim.

Alter the Constitutional Treaty was rejected in the referendums that took place in France and the Netherlands, the work of the University Institute for European Studies has focused on the analysis of the innovations proposed by the Constitutional Treaty within the different options for overcoming the European crisis.

With this aim, the University Institute for European Studies, in cooperation with Florence University Institute and the Rafael del Pino Foundation, carried out a research project under the title of “The Future of the European Constitutional Treaty and the possible scenarios for overcoming the present situation”. The conclusions were publicly presented before the media representatives in Brussels, on 30 May 2007, and were handed in to the President of the European Commission, the President of the European Parliament and the Spanish Foreign Minister.