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Lisbon Summit: Europe’s Latest Treaty

  • October 19th, 2007
  • Posted by 7thmin

treaty-of-rome-europaallalavagna.jpgHeads of government of the European Union have agreed (19.10.07) to implement the new Reform Treaty worked out earlier this year, as a replacement for the failed project of a Constitution.

SEVEN-HOURS TO SETTLE IT

After a seven-hour session in Lisbon the twenty-seven government leaders announced they had overcome the last of the objections from a few member countries and confirmed the main clauses.

The Treaty is set to be signed on 13.12.07 so it can be implemented ahead of elections for the European parliament in 2009.

“I believe we have a treaty that will give us now the capacity to act,” said Jose Manuel Barroso, the European Commission who has long sought the consolidated, and extended powers the new agreement will bring.

“Our citizens want results; they want to see in concrete terms what Europe brings them in their daily lives,” he said at Lisbon.
LAST DETAILS

The deals made at Lisbon include confirmation of a provision insisted on by Poland which will permit small groups of countries to delay certain decisions for further debate.

The Polish President, Lech Kaczysnki, had been holding out for this provision, after campaigning on the issue at home, in the lead-up to elections in Poland this weekend (21.10.07).

Poland had earlier obtained agreement that a move towards greater use of qualified majorities in decision-making (using the measure of 65% of the EU population), in a range of cases where vetoes currently apply, will not come in immediately, but be phased in over time.

OUTLINES OF CHANGE

The new Reform Treaty will consolidate a set of existing treaties which at present form the foundations of European Union law – most eminently the founding 1957 Treaty of Rome, signed by the initial six partner states (picture).

It will give more prerogatives to the European Court.

The list of issues that can be decided by the European Council, made up of national Ministers, will be extended, once the new qualified-majority system is in place.

Those decisions will mainly be on police and judiciary matters where the EU wants a better capacity to deal with international crime; though national governments will still be able to keep entirely to themselves decisions affecting foreign policy, defence, their fiscal management, culture and social security.

The British government has as well obtained the right to opt out of decisions made in connection with another initiative to be contained in the reform treaty, a binding declaration of fundamental human rights; it has argued that it must continue to rule at times according to convention rather than statutes.

A “European President”, as President of the European Council (the summit group) is to be appointed for terms of two and a half years, instead of the present system with the Prime Ministers doing it on a six month rotation.

There will be a Vice President who will also be the EU’s “High Representative” for foreign affairs, with a new EU diplomatic service in support.

Under the new treaty the European Union member states will be able to develop their joint security arrangements.

The executive body, the European Commission, is to be reduced from its present 27 members, one for each country, initially coming down to 18 – with members from the different nation-states rotating into positions for five year terms.

NOT A CONSTITUTION

The document to be known as the Treaty of Lisbon takes over from the foreshadowed constitution, which won widespread formal endorsement by governments, but was knocked back at referendums in France and the Netherlands in 2005.

The main parts of the replacement version were put together at a Brussels summit last June.

It leaves out the term “constitution” and references to a flag or European anthem, seen as suggesting the construction of a European super state.

While the 2007 treaty requires only the assent of governments, anti-Europeanist or “Euro-sceptic” movements in some of the member countries, especially the United Kingdom England, have continued to demand referendums in the hope of blocking it.

Reference:

EUAustralia Online
; “Breakthrough at Brussels”, and “Relief and Recrimination over Euro-changes”, 24.6.07.

European Commission, reports: http://ec.europa.eu/commission_barroso/president/focus/council_062007_en.htm (23.6.07)

Brussels European Council, 21/22 June 2007, Presidency Conclusions, 23.6.2007 (English), Nr: 11177/07, CONCL 2, http://www.consilium.europa.eu/showPage.AsP?lang=en

Thomas Ferenczi, “La présidence stable, une des dispositions les plus novatrices”, Le Monde, 19.10.07. www.lemonde.fr (19.10.07)

“EU leaders agree new treaty deal”, BBC (19.10.07). www.bbc.com (19.10.07)
Picture: Treaty of Rome. on display, google.europaallalavgna

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