Sat, Oct 25, 2003 - Page 8 News List

EU offers inspiration to pen new constitution

By Chen Lung-chu 陳隆志

To prepare for eastward expansion next year, EU members convened an intergovernmental conference on Oct. 4 to negotiate and discuss the content of the draft EU constitution.

If all goes well, the 25 current and future EU members will sign the draft constitution on Europe Day next year and complete domestic ratification procedures over the following two years.

This draft constitution includes five main points: establishing a president's post with a term of two and a half years; establishing an EU foreign minister's post; formulating a common defense and foreign policy; mapping out the legally binding European Charter of Fundamental Rights; and endowing the EU with the status of a "juridical person."

To enable this draft constitution to accommodate an enlarged EU, and to thoroughly transform the current EU structure and mechanisms, former French president Valery Giscard d'Estaing chaired the European Convention to hear people's opinions regarding institutional reforms and the EU's development through public and transparent discussions. This is to make sure that EU policy truly reflects the thoughts of Europeans.

To achieve lasting peace and stability, EU countries drafted their constitution from a long-term point of view. Based on the common goal of constructing a beautiful Europe, the members have repeatedly consulted each other, showing this community's tolerance for dissent.

Since the European Convention was established to create a constitution, EU institutions and the community's new and old members have all joined hands to participate in the discussions. These discussions have highlighted the EU's respect for the public will in each country, and its pursuit of shared values to create a new European culture.

Taiwan can learn a lesson from the EU. At the ceremony celebrating the Democratic Progressive Party's 17th anniversary, President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) said, "By working with the 23 million Taiwanese people, the party should push for a new constitution in 2006 and put it to a referendum."

This is a proposal that fits in with the trends of the time. Taiwan should emulate EU countries to formulate a new constitution that regards Taiwan as the primary entity and meets real needs. People's collective will should be expressed through a referendum. This can strengthen the legality, legitimacy and feasibility of Taiwan's new constitution, thereby putting into practice the idea of "people power."

Taiwan's democratization requires strengthening and deepening. It is a matter of great urgency to write a new, feasible constitution to project a grand vision for Taiwan's existence and development in the international community, establish a sound political structure, and further safeguard people's freedoms and rights.

A new constitution is indispensable for Taiwan to become a normal, first-class country.

Chen Lung-chu is the chairman of the Taiwan New Century Foundation.

Translated by Jackie Lin

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