European Commission President Romano Prodi urged EU governments today to adopt a constitution that safeguards and builds upon the gains of 53 years of unprecedented integration.
“We are now at the crossroads. If Europe stops seeking the unity that can give it political substance, it will drift,” Prodi said in a statement marking May 9 as Europe Day.
He also said the EU will not close its doors after taking in 10 neighbours in 2004.
“The door is open to the Balkans,” said Prodi in Brussels. He added the EU would continue to seek better relations with Russia and countries around the southern and eastern rims of the Mediterranean.
“I am firmly convinced that the European unification process will only be complete on the day all the Balkan states are members,” he said.
Prodi said it was important for EU governments to adopt a European constitution – now being drafted and debated by the 15 EU member states – at the end of the year.
The constitution would contain reforms to make the union a more manageable, more accountable organisation by cutting red tape and moving to more majority voting. The EU nations are at odds over that as well as over how – or if – the EU should have a common defence policy.
“Let us not abandon our quest for unity in democracy,” said Prodi.
“We must redouble pour efforts to ensure that tomorrow’s Europe will really be more democratic, more efficient and less complex.”
Europe Day marks the May 9, 1950, address to the French parliament by then French foreign minister Robert Schuman in which he laid the foundation for the European Coal and Steel Community, the EU’s precursor.