Update on the Draft Constitutional Treaty for the European Union

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STATE OF PLAY
Austria – Parliament (Approval by the Nationalrat 11 May 2005. Approval by Bundesrat 25 May 2005)
Belgium – Parliament (Approval by the Senate: 28 April 2005. Approval by the Chamber: 19 May 2005. Approval by other Assemblies expected within the next weeks.)
Cyprus – Parliament (Approval by the House postponed to 30 June 2005)
Czech Republic – Possible Referendum (June 2006?)
Denmark – Referendum 27 September 2005
Estonia – Parliament
Finland – Parliament (Auitumn 2005)
France – Referendum (Referendum 29 May 2005 negative (NO: 54,8%; turn out: 70%) (to be officialy confirmed))
Germany – Parliament (Approval by Bundestag: 12 May 2005. Adoption by Bundesrat: 27 May 2005.)
Greece – Parliament (Approval by Parliament: 19 April 2005)
Hungary- Parliament (Approval by Parliament: 20 December 2004)
Ireland – Referendum likely to be held in October-November 2005
Italy – Parliament (Approval by the Chamber on 25 January 2005 and by the Senate on April 6th.)
Latvia – Parliament (Approval by the chamber on 2 June 2005)
Lithuania – Parliament (Approval by Parliament 11-11-04)
Luxembourg – First vote of the Chamber on the approval of the treaty foreseen in mid-June. Referendum on 10 July 2005 (adoption of the specific law related to the organisation of the referendum adopted by the Chamber on April 12th) Second vote of the Chamber: after the referendum
Malta – Parliament (Vote of Parliament expected in July 2005)
Netherlands – Referendum 1 June 2005 negative (61,7%, turn out : 63%) (to be confirmed later)
Poland – A referendum could be carried out on 9 October 2005 along with presidential elections
Portugal – Referendum (Referendum likely to be held in October 2005 along with the local elections)
Slovakia – Parliament (Approval by Parliament: 11 May 2005)
Slovenia – Parliament (Approval by Parliament: 1 February 2005 )
Spain – Referendum (Referendum 20 February 2005: 76,7% in favour. Turnout: 42,3%. Approval of the Congress on 28 April. Approval of the Senate on 18 May 2005)
Sweden – Parliament (Ratification Bill should be presented to Parliament in Summer. It could pass in December 2005)
United Kingdom – Referendum (Ratification expected in first half-year 2006.Legislation for referendum shelved after French and Dutch results)

Given the failure of the French and Dutch to approve the European Constitution, how far does Europe need a Constitution?

I was very disappointed to hear the results of the referenda in France and the Netherlands. I believe that the European Union needs a constitution to codify all the treaties and set out the powers of each of the institutions.

Europe needs a constitution. When you look at organisations that have constitutions they are many and diverse. From local sports clubs to countries, constitutions lay out the basic rules and procedures for the running of the organisation.

Currently the rules and regulations of the EU are contained in many treaties beginning with the Treaty of Rome and the other treaties. Other regulations are the result of compromises and have never been written down. A constitution would clearly lay out the role for every institution of the EU.

In this constitution I would like to see the EU set out the basic human rights that every EU citizen should have. I also think that the constitution should contain a role for national parliaments. This constitution would clear up a lot of confusion that many citizens encounter when discussing the EU.

Crime and Punishment: Is capital punishment the answer to reducing crime ?

No, capital Punishment is not the answer to reducing crime. I personnaly am against capital punishment because it is murder at the hands of the state, which is still a crime in the eyes of God.

Just look at states that have capital punishment, 38 states of the USA and the federal government allow capital punishment. Only recently did they stop the executions of minors.

The 12 countries with the most executions in 2004 were:
China – 3,400+
Iran – 159+
Vietnam – 64+
USA – 59
Saudi Arabia – 33+
Pakistan – 15+
Kuwait – 9+
Bangladesh – 7+
Egypt – 6+
Singapore – 6+
Yemen – 6+
Belarus – 5+

These countries, apart from the USA, are not the most the most respected of countries internationally due to their from of government or lack of respect for Human Rights. This shows the kind of countries that use the death penalty and crime is not abating in them!

EU Constitution – Greece!

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Greece has been the latst country to ratify the European Contitutional Treaty. See below for a rough idea on the progression in other Memeber States.

STATE OF PLAY
Austria – Parliament
Belgium – Parliament
Cyprus – Parliament
Czech Republic – Possible Referendum (June 2006?)
Denmark – Referendum 27 September 2005
Estonia – Parliament
Finland – Parliament (Auitumn 2005)
France – Referendum (29 May 2005)
Germany – Parliament
Greece – Parliament (19 April 2005)
Hungary- Parliament (Approved 20 December 2004)
Ireland – Referendum
Italy – Parliament (Approved 7 April 2005)
Latvia – Parliament
Lithuania – Parliament (Approved 11 November 2004)
Luxembourg – Consultative Referendum 10 July 2005
Malta – Parliament (July 2005)
Netherlands – Consultive Referendum 1 June 2005
Poland – Probable Referendum
Portugal – Referendum (October 2005)
Slovakia – Parliament
Slovenia – Parliament (1 February 2005)
Spain – Referendum (Passed 20 february 2005, 76.7% Congress on 28 April. Senate June 2005)
Sweden – Parliament (December 2005)
United Kingdom – Referendum (2006?)

The EU constitution tough passage through Europe expected.

With referendums coming up in Ireland and the UK, will they be passed? The UK is looking unlikely, but could Ireland have a repeat of the Nice debacle?

With 4 countries (Hungary, Slovenia and Lithuania passing the treaty in parliament and Spain by referendum) there are still 21 countries to go with referendums in 8 more countries will it be passed and more importantly do we need an EU constitution???

A new opinion poll today shows that France is looking less likely to pass the constitution then thought in previous polls. But when have polls been completely accurate?

Italy has been the latest country to ratify the treaty. It passed the treaty in parliament on the 7th of April

STATE OF PLAY
Austria – Parliament
Belgium – Parliament
Cyprus – Parliament
Czech Republic – Possible Referendum
Denmark – Referendum 27 September 2005
Estonia – Parliament
Finland – Parliament
France – Referendum 29 May 2005
Germany – Parliament
Greece – Parliament
Hungary- Parliament (Approved 20 December 2004)
Ireland – Referendum
Italy – Parliament (Approved 7 April 2005)
Latvia – Parliament
Lithuania – Parliament (Approved 11 November 2004)
Luxembourg – Consultative Referendum 10 July 2005
Malta – Parliament
Netherlands – Consultive Referendum 1 June 2005
Poland – Probable Referendum
Portugal – Referendum October 2005
Slovakia – Parliament
Slovenia – Parliament
Spain – Referendum (Passed 20 february 2005, 76.7% YES)
Sweden – Parliament
United Kingdom – Referendum 2006?

Click the link below for more information on the draft constitutional treaty
http://www.europa.eu.int/constitution/index_en.htm

Deciding life and death, should euthanasia be legalized?

Euthanasia arouses huge debate in today’s society. It has divided the United States of America. I believe that euthanasia should be legalized, in certain circumstances. If the person as no chance of recovery and the family and/or next of kin agree, then euthanasia should be allowed. The guidelines for euthanasia should be very strict and decisions should be allowed to be contested in court. Euthanasia should not be performed if a person has announced or stated that they are against euthanasia.

Euthanasia is legal in very few places. Euthanasia is legal in Belgium and the Netherlands, and doctor assisted suicide is legal in Oregon, USA. The debate surrounding euthanasia will last for decades as people wrestle with their conscience on whether it is right or not. Personally i believe that a person is ill and has little and/or very low chance of survival then having made their own decision when they are diagnosed with the disease they are suffering from, then eutanasia should be legal.

Electoral Systems used Today

There are six different types of electoral systems used in today’s democracies. They are split into two broad categories; majoritarian and proportional systems.

Majoritarian Systems
First Past the Post (Single Member Plurality)
Second Ballot
Alternative Vote/Supplementary Vote

Proportional Systems
Alternative Member System
Proportional representation Single transferable Vote
Party List

First Past the Post (FPTP) – Majoritarian
This system is used in the United Kingdom, Canada, USA and India.

The country is split into constituencies of equal sizes. Each constituency has one representative in the assembly creating a strong link between the area and it’s representative. Strong, effective, stable single-party government are normally formed. Small extremist parties rarely win seats under this system. To get elected a candidate just needs to get the majority of the votes, this leads to a lot of wasted votes as the person elected might only get 26% of the vote.

Second Ballot – Majoritarian
This is mainly used in France and the Ukraine.

There are single member constituencies with single-choice voting. After the first ballot if no candidate has an overall majority, a second run-off ballot is held between the two leading candidates. Candidates are forced to have a broad appeal to get elected.

Alternative Vote (AV); Supplementary Vote (SV) – Majoritarian
Used in Australia (AV) and in the United Kingdom (London Mayor (SV)).

There are single member constituencies and electors use preferential voting. . The winning candidate must have 50% of the vote. This system is fairer than the second ballot as it stops candidates from forming deals.

Additional Member System (AMS) – Proportional
Used in Germany, Italy, Russia, New Zealand, Scottish Parliament and the Welsh Assembly.

A percentage of the seats are filled by the FPTP system. The rest of the seats are filled by a party list system. This allows a constituency to have its own representative from one party and vote for a another party to govern.

Proportional Representation: Single Transferable Vote (PRSTV) – Proportional
Used in the Republic of Ireland and in the Northern Ireland Assembly.

There are multi-member constituencies (up to five seats) in which parties can field as many candidates as there is seats. Candidates are elected when they reach a quota. Having several representatives means constituents can choose who to take there grievances to.

Party List System – Proportional
Used in Israel, Belgium, Luxembourg, Switzerland and various other European States.

The entire country is treated as one constituency. The voters vote for the party of their liking. The party list system is the most proportional system used as if a party gets 45% of the votes it gets 45% of the seats.

United Nations, Security Council Reform: Plan A or Plan B??

The United Nations summit in New York, this September, faces a difficult choice A or B?

In his recent report, In Larger Freedom, Kofi Annan, secretary-General of the UN outlined two proposals for reform of the Security Council.

Model A provides for six new permanent seats, with no veto being created, and three new two-year term non-permanent seats, divided among the major regional areas.

Under Model A Europe will get another permanent seat, but who will get it? It will be hotly contested between Germany, Italy and Spain. Europe will also get 2 non-renewable 2 year seats. These will pass among the European Members of the UN.

Under Model A Africa will get 2 new permanent seats, but who will get these? Nigeria and South Africa and hotly tipped for them but there could be other challengers. Africa will also get 4 non- renewable 2 year seats.

Asian-Pacific Region will also get 2 new permanent seats and there will be plenty of competition between Australia, Japan, India, Pakistan and others for them. The Asian-Pacific region will get 4 non-renewable 2 year seats.

The Americas will get 1 new permanent seat which will be contested by Brazil, Argentina, Canada, Mexico and other countries. The Americas will also get 4 non-renewable 2 year seats.

For this model Germany, Japan, Brazil and India have pledged to vote for each other in getting the new permament seats on the council.

Model B provides for no new permanent seats but creates a new category of eight four-year renewable-term seats and one new two-year non-permanent (and non-renewable) seat, divided among the major regional areas.

Under Model B Europe will get 2 new renewable 4 year seats and 1 non-renewable 2 year seat.

Africa will get 2 renewable 4 year seats and 4 non-renewable seats.

The Asian-Pacific Region will get 2 renewable 4 seats year and 3 non-renewable 2 year seats.

The Americas will get 2 renewable 4 year seats and 3 non-renewable 2 year seats.

Under both models each region; Africa, Americas, Asian-Pacific and Europe will each have 6 seats representing their views on the Security Council. Of course their is no change recommended in the number of veto holding members.

Security Council reform is not the only thing outlined in the report. Change is advocated in most of the organs of the UN from the General Assembly to the Trusteeship Council, which is hoped to be implemented as a Human Rights Council.

For more inforamtion on the UN please visit http://www.un.org

What more should be done to protect the environment?

For the environment of this planet to be protected international agreements like the Kyoto Protocol should be honoured by the major polluters. Developing countries should be given the technology to develop industry to the level of the developed world without producing as much pollution.

In general every country should develop effective and cheap methods of recycling. The price of recycling some products is more expensive and, therefore, less appealing to producers/industry. This is a major obstacle that must be overcome for us to be able to pass on to future generations a clean, safe environment.

Protecting the environment is not something nation states alone can do. International organistations from the EU to the UN have a role in encouraging states to cooperate in developing environmental policies that will not only enhance their region but the entire world.

Is China a threat, if so how and who does China threaten?

I believe China is not a threat in today’s world. I think that China could become a stabliser in world politics by forcing the United States to change for a malign hegemon back to a benign hegemon. The ‘preventive war’ in Iraq could have been avoided if the US was forced to stand down by another great power. The US has held a dominant position in world politics for too long, 60 years this year!!

The US holds a veto in the UN, it has 17% of the votes on the board of the IMF giving it an effective veto over its decisions. This has gone too long. The US needs a challenge. Only China can give the US this challenge.

The EU might be able to challenge the US in the future, but would have to sort out its Common Foreign and Security Policy first. China is only viewed as a threat by some Americans who want the US to hold onto its dominant position in the world and stop other countries from reaching the same level as them.


China is becoming more accepted in today’s world, is this a threat? No, its a new possibility for European and American trade and investment. I do not believe China is a threat to anyone bar the USA’s dominant position in world politics