The General Assembly of EWLA held in Brussels, Belgium, on 18 March 2005 adopted unanimously the following Resolution on the Constitutional Treaty of the European Union
The General Assembly of the European Women Lawyers Associations (EWLA), held on 17 and 18 March 2005 in Strasbourg, France, has adopted the following
Resolution regarding the Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe
Following its active participation in the debate on the future of Europe and on the drafting of this Treaty, during which it presented 12 contributions to the Convention and 4 Appeals to the IGC.1
I. EWLA welcomes the explicit mention of “gender equality” in Article I-2 of the Constitution (the Union’s values), which aims at safeguarding a fundamental feature of the European identity.
This demand was consistently put forward by EWLA, in collaboration with more than 200 international, European and national, women’s and mixed, NGOs, to the mobilization of which EWLA contributed².
Gender equality is, according to well established ECJ case law, a fundamental right - an expression of human dignity - that both Member States and Union institutions have a duty to respect, guarantee and promote in all their activities.
Articles I-58 and I-59 of the Constitutional Treaty³ refer to the whole Article I-2, thus making all the values listed in this Article, including gender equality, fundamental criteria for judging the democratic behaviour of both the Member States and the European States that wish to become Union members. Member States which breach any of these values, including gender equality, are liable to heavy sanctions, while only those European States which respect, guarantee and promote them all, in law and in practice, may apply to become Union members.
II. EWLA welcomes that the gender mainstreaming clause (Article III-116) explicitly applies to all policies of the Union, and that the IGC agreed in the 13th Declaration on Article III-116 (Document CIG 87 ADD 2 p. 96) that, in its general efforts to eliminate inequalities between women and men, the Union will aim in all its policies to combat all kinds of domestic violence, and the Member States should take all necessary measures to prevent and punish these criminal acts and to support and protect the victims.
III. EWLA welcomes also the provisions in Articles I-47 and I-50, which ensure the participation of civil society in the promotion of good EU governance through the transparency of the action of EU institutions, and an open, transparent and regular dialogue of these institutions with civil society. In that respect EWLA will continue to cooperate with all the institutions of the EU.
IV. EWLA welcomes the incorporation of the Charter of Fundamental Rights in Part II of the Constitution as part of the acquis in fundamental rights.
V. Although certain amendments to the general provisions of this Charter, which were made by the Convention and the IGC, seem to restrict its scope in comparison with the acquis in fundamental rights, the obligation for the Union and the Member States to safeguard and develop this acquis, as the Union’s cornerstone, still exists. This is recalled by the Preamble to the Constitutional Treaty.
VI. EWLA is discussing the Constitutional Treaty with civil society, and in particular lawyers and their organisations throughout Europe, by organising and participating in conferences and seminars and by various other activities. This was one of its central themes in its 5th Congress in Strasbourg, on March 17-18, 2005, in particular with reference to fundamental rights. On these occasions and through the activity of its members, at the national and European levels, EWLA promotes the idea that:
• the acquis in fundamental rights is broad and constantly developing;
• every individual on Union soil is the subject of numerous rights which are guaranteed by European law, international human rights treaties, and a rich case law of the Court of Justice of the European Communities and the European Court of Human Rights;
• every individual on Union soil must exercise and claim these rights and give national and European courts the opportunity to safeguard and develop the acquis.
1 See Convention Forum website, ICG Futurum website and EWLA website.
2 See the list of these NGOs in EWLA 3rd Appeal to the IGC, 5.4.2004.
3 These Articles correspond to Articles 49 and 7 TEC.