MEI 12 Built to Last: A Political Architecture for Europe

The European Constitutional Convention offers a historical opportunity to rethink and to improve the governance and organization of the European Union. At stake is Europe?s political architecture: the form that government takes and the allocation of responsibilities between the member states and supranational bodies. Many reform proposals have already been offered to the Convention. This Report provides a method for evaluating those options, developing an analytical framework derived from recent developments in the theory of positive political economy.

On this basis the authors conclude that a presidential system of governance is likely to be best adapted to Europe ? and specifically to the need to expand the competency of the EU in the areas of internal and external security (Europe?s Second and Third Pillars). In a full-blown presidential system, the Commission would have well-defined executive powers, specified by the Council, and a president elected by the citizens of Europe. The European executive would be subject to checks and balances by both the Council and the European Parliament. But political realism excludes adopting such a solution in the short run. The authors therefore propose an evolutionary strategy: the election of the Commission president by a college of country representatives appointed in the short run by national parliaments, leaving the option open to individual countries to allocate their votes for the presidency via universal suffrage . This solution would preserve the option of moving to a fully-fledged presidential model sometime in the future, while providing enhanced democratic legitimacy from the start. In general, the Constitution should be long on principles and general rules and short on details so as to allow Europe?s governance to evolve within an unchanged Constitution.