European Convention leaders
celebrate the approval of the
draft constitution

Friday’s announcement came after 16 months of intense debate which focused on consensus building.

But some key points, including national vetoes on foreign policy and taxation – were left unresolved in order for a preliminary text to be presented in time for the EU leaders’ summit next week in Greece.
 
Nevertheless, convention chairman, former French President Valery Giscard d’Estaing, told a packed chamber at the European Parliament that history had been made.

“We have found a point of balance,” he said. “The time has come for us today to pronounce on this in a spirit of consensus. This text stands as the foundation of a treaty embodying the European Constitution.”

"Standing now on the threshold of a new era, we should decide together to go in to a new Europe," d'Estaing concluded to a standing ovation as the EU anthem, Beethoven's Ode to Joy, played.

Many delegates declared the draft a watershed moment in shaping a new Europe, with new powers needed to make the 15-nation EU run more effectively once it takes in 10 new members next year.

"This convention has been an unconditional success, not because all of us can subscribe to everything but because it constitutes a fair compromise for the upcoming Inter-governmental Congress (IGC)," said Danish representative Henning Christophersen.

The convention, whose members are drawn from EU governments, parliaments and the European Commission, is set to reconvene on 9 July to discuss part three of the constitution, which details the technical implementation of EU decisions and laws.