PRESS RELEASE

The European Central Bank adopts an opinion on the draft Constitution

22 September 2003

The European Central Bank (ECB) has adopted its opinion, as requested by the Council of the European Union, on the draft Constitution that was prepared by the European Convention and will serve as a basis for the forthcoming Intergovernmental Conference (IGC).

The ECB welcomes the draft Constitution. It considers that it simplifies, streamlines, and clarifies the legal and institutional framework of the European Union and enhances the Union's ability to act at both the European and the international level. The draft Constitution is an important step in preparing the Union for the future, as requested by the Laeken Declaration.

The ECB understands that the transfer of the provisions on the ECB and the European System of Central Banks (ESCB) from the EC Treaty to the Constitution will not entail any changes to the substance, and that the tasks, mandate, status and legal regime of the ECB and of the ESCB remain substantially unchanged. The ECB attaches great importance to the fact that the substance of the Statute of the ESCB and the ECB and the other protocols relevant to economic and monetary union will not be subject to changes and that these documents will be annexed to the Constitution of which they will form an integral part.

Despite this generally positive assessment, the ECB opinion identifies certain aspects of the draft Constitution which should be improved. The ECB's principal suggestions are:

  • to introduce a reference to 'non-inflationary growth' or 'price stability' in Article I-3(3) of the Constitution in order to retain the current prominent positioning of stable prices at the forefront of the EC Treaty and also as a guiding principle for the Union;
  • to swap certain headings in Title IV of Part I so as to clearly indicate that the ECB is part of the institutional framework of the Union even though it is not in the list of the Union's Institutions and to add a reference to the ESCB and the Eurosystem in the heading of Article I-29 which currently refers exclusively to the ECB;
  • to recognise also in Article I-29 that the national central banks (NCBs) are and will continue to be independent;
  • to introduce a reference to the widely recognised term 'Eurosystem' in the draft Constitution (in relation to the ECB and the NCBs of only those EU Member States which have adopted the euro);
  • to add an explicit reference to the responsibilities of the ESCB in Article III-90.

The ECB opinion, which will be published shortly in the Official Journal of the European Union, is available on the ECB's website in all the official Community languages.

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