Our initiative is based on three main elements. Firstly, it is intended to give prominence to the general political aim of European unification in the eyes of all of us. European activity takes place in five main areas: the European Economic Community in Brussels, European political cooperation, the European Council, the European Parliament and the European Court of Justice.
Once completed, European Union will become a special kind of entity not covered by the traditional concepts of the federal State or the confederation of States. The European Act we are now proposing therefore sets out to formulate the aim of European Union for this many-faceted process of the unification of European activities. It is intended that the Member States commit themselves to this goal in the form of a declaration of major political importance.
Secondly, the European Act is intended as a general framework for the five main institutional spheres of cooperation. Our aim here is to consolidate what has already been achieved, to formalize and ratify unwritten practices in the sphere of cooperation and to give an impetus for the further development of what already exists; last but not least, we want to improve the coherence of the institutions' mutual relations.
The Act therefore comprises proposals on such things as extending European political cooperation, and it also calls for the decision-making structures of the European Community and of European political cooperation to be consolidated under the aegis of the European Council. To ensure that Europe remains externally viable, it is essential that European political cooperation foreign policy and European Community external economic policy be integrated into a coherent and comprehensive European policy.
We attach special importance to greatly improving cooperation and the dialogue between the European Parliament, the European Community, European political cooperation and the European Council, as well as to strengthening Parliament's participation and watchdog functions. We have therefore taken up a number of Parliament's demands and have tried to go along with them to the extent to which that is possible without amending the Treaties. What is at issue here is the democratic legitimacy of the Community. A strong Parliament is a powerhouse for European unification and a centre of European consciousness.
I should like to add on behalf of the Federal German Government that we are hoping for additional suggestions from the European Parliament in precisely this sphere, and we shall be pleased to take any such suggestions into account in the deliberations of the Council of Ministers. Another important aim is to improve the decision-making processes in Europe.
In particular, we have advocated making the majority decisions provided for in the Treaties in the Councils of Ministers the rule once again and relegating the appeal to 'vital interests' to an exception to this rule.
Thirdly, the aim of everything I have discussed so far is to consolidate what has already been achieved in the process of European unification and to exploit to the full the inherent opportunities for further development. It is also intended to give some impetus towards including important new sectors in European cooperation. For instance, foreign policy cooperation should include questions of security policy. It is particularly important at this time for the voice of Europe to be heard more clearly.