Friday, September 10, 2004


After months of negotiations, EU Heads of State and Governments reached a historic agreement on the EU's first ever Constitution on 18 June. The final text pre-serves the great majority of the draft text proposed by the Conven-tion but the price of the agreement was the en-trenchment of unanimity in some areas such as tax, for-eign and security policy and in any future review of the Constitution.

From an LGBT perspective the key elements are:

Non-discrimination and equality are included both in the values and the objectives (PART I)

The draft constitution includes the Charter of Funda-mental Rights of the Union (PART II )

Article III-3 (new) – horizontal clause: "In defining and implementing the policies and activities referred to in this Part,
the Union shall aim to combat discrimina-tion based on sex, racial or ethnic origin, religion or be-lief, disability, age or sexual orientation."

Article III-8 (ex Article 13 TEC) – legislation requires unanimity in Council:

1.      Without prejudice to the other provisions of the Constitution and within the limits of the powers assigned by it to
the Union, a European law or framework law of the Council may establish the measures needed to combat discrimination based on sex, racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation. The Council shall act unanimously after obtaining the consent of the European Parliament.

2.      By way of derogation from paragraph 1, Euro-pean laws or framework laws may establish ba-sic principles for Union incentive measures and define such incentive measures, to support ac-tion taken by Member States in order to contrib-ute to the achievement of the objectives referred to in paragraph 1, excluding any harmonisation of their laws and regulations."

The Constitution is now due to be ratified by the 25 Member States over the next two years. With referenda due to take place in at least 9 member states (Denmark, Ireland, the UK and Luxembourg will hold a referendum on the Constitution; Poland, Spain, the Netherlands, Bel-gium, France and others could do so as well), the entire project is still highly vulnerable to rejection if not ratified in any one Member State.


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