Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Euro banknotes and coins IIb: Comparison Article III-78 draft Constitution

We compare the proposal of the European Convention (Article III-78) with the current Article 106 of the Treaty establishing the European Community (TEC) concerning the issue of euro banknotes and euro coins.

After that we look at some legal materials and descriptions of the proposal of the European Convention in the draft Constitution.

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Texts compared

Article III-78(1) of the draft Constitution wrote the European Central Bank in full, and it added the word ‘euro’ before banknotes. The third sentence was slightly rephrased, and ‘Union’ replaced ‘Community’. Similar editorial changes were made to the second paragraph, but the European Parliament was downgraded by the move from the cooperation procedure to the consultation procedure.

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de Poncins

Étienne de Poncins presented the proposed text of Article III-78 of the draft Constitution in ‘Vers une Constitution européenne’ (Éditions 10/18, 2003), without comment, on page 302─303.

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Sweden

Sweden remains outside the third phase of economic and monetary union (EMU), without a derogation, but following the 14 September 2003 referendum.

I found no mention of Article III-78 in the Swedish government’s memorandum on the draft Constitution, ‘Europeiska konventet om EU:s framtid’ (Utrikesdepartementet, Departementsserien (Ds) 2003:58, 2003).

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Sweden

Ahead of the intergovernmental conference (IGC 2003─2004), but after the euro referendum, the government of Sweden made a passing reference to technical specifications regarding euro coins, which are decided by the Eurogroup, in ‘Europeiska konventet om EU:s framtid’ (Regeringens skrivelse 2003/04:13, den 2 oktober 2003), on page 48:

”Redan idag finns ett antal frågor där euroländerna själva fattar beslut, bl.a. sanktioner i stabilitets- och tillväxtpakten, växelkurspolitik och tekniska frågor som rör euromynten. Konventet föreslår att euroländerna, inom det ordinarie rådet, skall kunna samordna sin politik ytterligare genom att de ges möjlighet att själva besluta om särskilda bestämmelser för euroländerna när det gäller riktlinjer för den ekonomiska politiken samt förfarandet vid alltför stort underskott.”

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United Kingdom

The United Kingdom has opted out of the third stage of economic and monetary union (EMU). (In the latest consolidated version of the treaties, Protocol (No 25) on certain provisions relating to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, OJ 29.12.2006 C 321 E/299).
Between the European Convention and the intergovernmental conference, the UK government presented its general approach ─ most British ─ in ‘A Constitutional Treaty for the EU; The British Approach to the European Union Intergovernmental Conference 2003’ (Cm5934, September 2003), under Economic Governance on pages 34─35:

“74. Many of the issues discussed in the European Convention and raised in the draft Constitutional Treaty could have significant consequences for the future performance of EU economies. The draft Constitutional Treaty proposed by the Convention has proposed changes to the EU’s existing system of economic governance and other aspects of the EU fiscal framework; the institutional balance between the Union and Member States in economic policy coordination; and the role of the Eurogroup, the informal grouping of euro area finance ministers. The Government will oppose any such proposals which might lead to unnecessary rigidities or undermine the central role of Member States in determining their economic policies. It will work to ensure outcomes that will bolster stability, promote flexibility and enhance the ability of European countries to raise productivity and employment levels.

75. The draft Treaty does not alter the terms of the UK’s Economic and Monetary Union protocol (allowing the UK to decide whether or not to join the euro). This will need formally to be re-adopted on the conclusion of the IGC.”

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Finland

Finland is part of Euroland.

The Finnish government, in ‘Valtioneuvoston selonteko Eduskunnalle konventin tuloksista ja valmistautumisesta hallitusten väliseen konferenssiin’ (VNS 2/2003 vp), listed the procedure in Article III-78 among the non-legislative acts to be adopted by the Council after consulting the European Parliament (Muut kuin lainsäätämisjärjestyksessä hyväksyttävät säädökset; 3.21Määrenemmistö neuvostossa ja Euroopan parlamentin kuuleminen; page 88).

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We will see that the European Convention initiated some of the changes of terminology, later to appear in the Constitutional Treaty and the Treaty of Lisbon.

Downgrading the role of the European Parliament to mere consultation concerning the detail of denominations and technical specifications of euro coins did not elicit much comment, but it underlined the intergovernmental character of EU economic and monetary union (EMU) in combination with the particular autonomy of the European Central Bank with regard to monetary policy.


Ralf Grahn