European Commission President Romano Prodi has proposed a new EU constitution that gives broad new powers to the commission. Mr. Prodi's draft constitution is part of an effort to modernize the 15-nation European Union as it seeks to add as many as 10 new members in coming years.
If nothing else, Mr. Prodi's proposed constitution is likely to spark hours of debate within the European Union.
His constitution ignores calls by France, Britain, and Spain to appoint a president of the European Union. Mr. Prodi argues such a post would create more problems than it would solve, and risks unbalancing the balance of powers in the union. Instead, he proposes that the holder of his own post be given more authority.
Mr. Prodi also said that future presidents of the European Commission should be elected by the European Parliament, granting them a democratic legitimacy independent of member governments.
He also proposed a single EU foreign minister who would sit in the commission, the executive body of the European Union, but be answerable both to member countries and the commission president. Right now responsibility for foreign policy is divided between a high representative, Javier Solana, who is responsible to member countries and an external relations Commissioner, Chris Patten.
The European Commission president also called for an extension of majority voting, instead of unanimous approval, to almost all areas of EU policy, except defense. This would remove vetoes by individual nations on issues such as taxation.
Analysts say the Mr. Prodi's draft constitution is meant to counter those who favor a more decentralized European Union that gives greater power to member states and less to Brussels.
A draft European constitution is to be presented to EU leaders by the middle of next year.