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European Union to Have Constitution

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European Expansion 2002

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The 15 current and 10 pending members of the European Union completed a two-day summit in Porto Carras, Greece, on Saturday with the promise of a constitution to govern the EU by next spring. That set of events signals the transformation of the EU from primarily an economic organization to a more political one.

The highlight of the summit was the delivery of the draft constitution by ex-French president Valery Giscard d'Estaing, who led a group of 105 delegates through the 16-month process that produced the document that they intend to govern the EU. Some elements of the draft have sparked concern among EU members. Among the concerns voiced are issues such as who would be allowed to vote, how to amend the constitution, and whether member nations should have veto power over Union-wide laws.

The draft will now be debated by other members of the EU, who hope to have the constitution ready to be approved by the 10 new members when they join the Union next spring.

The new nations are Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia, and Slovenia. The existing members are Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.

With the new members, the EU will surpass the North American Free Trade Agreement (uniting Canada, Mexico, and the United States in an economic union) as the world's largest market, with 445 million people compared to NAFTA's 416 million. The EU members have a common currency called the euro.

The expansion will be the first since Austria, Finland and Sweden joined in 1995. The founding 12 nations began the EU in 1993.

 Graphics courtesy of ArtToday

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