The key articles for Europe

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The Independent Online

PART I Article 6 gives the EU a legal identity, so that it can sign international treaties itself

PART I Article 6 gives the EU a legal identity, so that it can sign international treaties itself

Comment: True

Article 10 confirms precedence of EU law over national law

Comment: This has been the case since 1973, when Britain joined. The primacy of EU law is the reason France had to lift its ban on British beef

Article 11 defines "categories of competence"

Comment: One of the main points of the constitution, to make clear which policies are decided at EU and which at national level

Article 12 states five areas where the EU has exclusive powers: competition rules, eurozone monetary policy, external trade, customs and fisheries

Comment: This is already the situation. For example, all foreign trade deals are negotiated by the EU on behalf of the UK

Article 13 extends shared competences to include energy, transport, security and justice etc. Here, countries will only be able to act if the EU chooses not to

Comment: The EU already acts jointly in these areas (not energy, but including the environment). National governments will continue to legislate in these areas. But if governments have agreed to act via the EU in a specific area they cannot produce contradictory national legislation

Article 14 co-ordinates national economic and employment policies

Comment: Now watered down. The EU may "provide a framework for the co-ordination by the member states of their economic and employment policies"

Article 15 deepens commitment to a common EU foreign and defence policy

Comment: The EU already has a foreign, security and defence policy. All decisions are taken by unanimity

Article 16 creates a 21/2 -year president of the EU Council to replace six-month rotating country presidencies

Comment: The idea is to make governments' role in law making more effective

Article 22 extends majority voting in most (20 new) policy areas and limits national veto to key issues - tax, social security, EU revenue, foreign policy and defence

Comment: All of these have been removed except for social security, where a new mechanism will ensure that a government can't be outvoted on a measure it dislikes

Article 24 allows remaining veto areas to switch to majority voting (a process which national parliaments can stop)

Comment: This would need all national governments and parliaments to agree first

Article 27 creates a single EU foreign affairs minister. Comment: Would combine two existing posts: the EU's high representative for foreign affairs (now Javier Solana) and the European commissioner for external relations (now Chris Patten)

Article 40 allows countries to commit to mutual defence actions.

Comment: EU defence co-operation is becoming a reality, but national governments keep a veto