Sunday, June 13, 2004

And another one…

Another Irish draft

Yet another revision of the constitutional draft has been issued by the Irish presidency. The joke about the library not having a copy of the French constitution because it did not stock periodicals is wearing a little thin now. The Irish drafts are getting more frequent than a daily newspaper.

Anyhow, this one has the merit of being a little shorter a mere 25 pages. The main institutional questions have been left for the heads of state and government on 17/18 June so this document deals merely with those issues which are to be addressed by the foreign ministers tomorrow. To find it, click here.

One of the main changes is in taxation, with the deletion of Art III-63. The Irish presidency also recommends that Art III-62 (2) is deleted, which makes provision for the Council to act unanimously in deciding whether a tax harmonisation proposal does not affect the fiscal regime of a member state. As the paragraph stands, if the Council so finds, the proposal can then be adopted by QMV.

This became a new kind of "red line" - what one might call a "perforated red line" – as the Article is judiciable so that we could find a Council decision that a measure did affect the fiscal regime challenged in the ECJ, and over-ruled, following which the member state would be obliged to harmonise tax by QMV. Clearly, the fate of Art III-62 (2) is going to be one of the main battlegrounds tomorrow, in which Brown is "prepared to die".

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