COMPETENCES AND POWERS

The Union is already endowed with a wide range of competences conferred on it by the states either on an exclusive or shared basis [66].  Recent events suggest a reconsideration of the balance of competences between the Union and its states in three areas. 

The integration of Euratom into the constitutional treaty requires nuclear safety to be added to the list of the EU’s exclusive competences [67].  It also strengthens the argument for a review of the Union’s current limited competences over the structure of energy supply and the exploitation of energy resources. We recommend the creation of a new shared competence in this area in order to pursue the objective of a common energy policy which is secure, efficient, competitive and sustainable [68].  This reform should be complemented by making a treaty commitment to meeting UN goals of sustainable development [69].

To protect EU citizens resident in member states other than their own, EU competence should be strengthened so that no citizen may be deprived of the right to vote for a national government to represent them in the Council [70].  Every citizen of the Union should have the right to vote in elections to the national parliament either of the state of which he or she is a national or of the state in which he or she resides [71].  Consideration should also be given to extending the franchise of EU citizens to national referendums held on EU matters. 

The field of application of the Charter of Fundamental Rights should be broadened, in accordance with jurisprudence of the Court of Justice, from “when they are implementing Union law” to “when they act within the scope of Union law” [72].  

Alongside this modest shift of competence to the EU level is the larger requirement for an adjustment in the powers of the EU institutions. It is clear that in the area of asylum and immigration policy, the Commission needs stronger powers of federal agency, both directly and through the operation of other EU bodies, such as Frontex. We have mentioned above the need for a new electoral authority. There is a very good case for establishing a specialist EU agency to supervise the operation of the digital market along the lines of those bodies set up in recent years to supervise the banking union. The mandate of some existing authorities, such as the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights in Vienna, could well be broadened. Central to the enhanced role for the Commission, of course, is the installation of the Treasury with the power to propose federal taxes.

[66] Articles 2-6 TFEU.
[67] Article 3 TFEU. 
[68] Article 194(2) TFEU.
[69] Article 3(2) TEU. 
[70] This would meet the terms of the 1st Protocol of the ECHR. 
[71] Article 21 TFEU.
[72] Article 51 of the Charter. The preamble of the Charter could also be dropped, without loss. 

 

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