01 Sep 2003

Reform of the EU Institutions: Implications for the EU’s Performance in Climate Negotiations

Louise van Schaik / Christian Egenhofer

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Abstract This CEPS Policy Brief assesses the potential impact of the draft Constitutional Treaty of the Convention on the Future of Europe on the way the EU operates in international climate negotiations. Although Treaty revisions in the EU are ultimately decided by the EU member states, the Convention’s draft can be seen as an important blueprint that forms the starting point of the negotiations between the member states due to start in October 2003. Among the relevant issues that the authors identify are:
* A change in the number and form of the Council of Ministers formations. There is a chance that the Environment Council as it exists today will be changed, since most of its agenda – the adoption of legislation – will be transferred to the proposed Legislative Council. The transfer of remaining issues such as decision-making on multilateral environmental agreements to the Foreign Affairs Council or to an ‘Internal Market Council’ might offer some new perspectives, but it might also lead to a loss of environmental knowledge.
* The establishment of a Union Minister of Foreign Affairs (with a European External Action Service). Involvement of the Foreign Minister could offer an opportunity for more integration of foreign policy aspects in the EU’s position for climate change negotiations. * Changes regarding the rotating Presidency. Currently the rotating Presidency has an important role in both preparing and negotiating the EU’s position in the climate negotiations. The proposal of a longer-term chair of the Council of Ministers (at least one year) is likely to increase the consistency of EU negotiation positions.
* More transparent procedures on how the Council of Ministers nominates the negotiator or leader of the Union’s negotiating team (Art III-227).
The paper concludes that the Convention’s draft Constitution offers some interesting proposals that could lead to more integration of the broader range of external policies into the EU’s position for climate negotiations. Furthermore, there might be improvements related to the consistency of the EU’s position.