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Worth Doing Well – The Improvable European Union Constitution

Michigan Journal of International Law, Vol. 26, p. 587, 2005

32 Pages Posted: 23 Aug 2010  

Stephen C. Sieberson

Creighton University - School of Law

Date Written: 2005


The European Union Constitution’ (Constitution) was born of a desire to reorganize and simplify the existing EU Treaties in anticipation of the European Union’s (EU or Union) addition of ten new Member States in 2004. Its ratification is still in process at the time of publication of this Article, but the Constitution is intended to become the new foundational instrument for the EU.

The internal dynamics of the expanded Union and the external economic and geopolitical forces pressing against it will test the new Constitution, and it is premature to predict whether the instrument, if ratified, will serve the Union well. Nevertheless, one thing that can be done now is to evaluate the Constitution as a document. It can be analyzed in terms of its organization, its consistency, and its readability. Has it been well crafted? Is it more approachable than the Treaties? Is it a fitting product of the process that created it?

As background for this critique of the Constitution, Part II of this Article provides a brief overview of the existing EU Treaties, their shortcomings, and the political processes that culminated in the creation of the new Constitution. Of particular interest are certain goals articulated for the new document, such as the desire to replace the complex Treaties with a simpler, more approachable instrument. Part III is a summary of the Constitution’s textual content, details that are necessary to illuminate the analysis that follows. Part IV offers a critical review of the awkward manner in which the Constitution is organized. In particular, it focuses on the confusion created by scattering related provisions throughout the various parts of the document. Part V proposes two possible solutions to this drafting problem. One would maintain most of the present text but with many of the overlapping parts merged together. The second would eliminate much of the Constitution's detail in favor of a more basic statement of critical principles. The conclusion is that the Constitution as written is not as effective as it could be, and that its quality as a document does not match its importance as an expression of political will.

Keywords: European Union, European Union Constitution

Suggested Citation

Sieberson, Stephen C., Worth Doing Well – The Improvable European Union Constitution (2005). Michigan Journal of International Law, Vol. 26, p. 587, 2005 . Available at SSRN:

Stephen C. Sieberson (Contact Author)

Creighton University - School of Law ( email )

2500 California Plaza
Omaha, NE 68178
United States

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