Leaders of the 25 current and future members of the European Union met in Rome in weekend for the formal start of the so-called inter-governmental conference, or IGC. Over the following weeks and months, the IGC will discuss the controversial blueprint for the future of Europe - the draft EU constitution. The document was painstakingly put together by the Convention on the Future of Europe, a body made up of around 100 national representatives. But do they themselves believe the fruit of their labours will survive the rigours of the IGC? One of the three Czech delegates was Senator Josef Zieleniec.
"I worked for almost two years together with 105 representatives from the whole of Europe, and we prepared the draft which is now being discussed by the inter-governmental conference."
How confident are you that the work of the Convention will succeed in creating a constitution that all 25 current and future members are going to approve. The whole thing could end in failure, couldn't it?
"Could end in failure, you are right. But this would mean, from my point of view, the failure of European integration. And paradoxically, this is the source of my optimism. When I worked in Brussels on this constitution I strongly realised one thing: there are various views and interests in Europe, there are various visions of the future Europe. But there is a culture of consensus, which works. There is a culture of success. Despite the problems with the new draft, and critical points, almost everyone agrees that the constitution will have to be approved."
You've also expressed interest in becoming a member of the European Parliament. That is an institution which enjoys low support across Europe - are you any more confident that the Czech parliament will understand what the European Parliament is and why it's important?
"The low interest in the work of the European Parliament was one of the crucial points why we decided to prepare this constitution. It was one of the missions of this Convention, to deliver a system with more democracy. More democracy means also more powers to the European Parliament. And if the European Parliament has more powers, there will be more interest. More democracy, more transparency and more efficiency, this was the motto of the Convention."