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EU Affairs: Tough Bargaining Ahead

  • July 2nd, 2008
  • Posted by EUEditor

meade-2008-reduced.jpgINTERVIEW: On the day of a new Presidency for the European Union, EUAustralia speaks with leading commentator, Geoff Meade.

Smriti Chawla’s interview:


Tuesday 1st July was the first day of the French presidency of the European Union, and President Sarkozy of France declared he wanted to oversee “concrete” actions, on climate change, immigration agriculture ands defence.

Yet he was likely to have to spend a lot of time on the festering problem of Europe’s own structures.

The defeat of the planned reorganisation and expansion of the EU under the proposed Lisbon Treaty, in an Irish referendum, was being followed up elsewhere by sceptical Europeans, two in particular.

Lech Kaczynski
of Poland was holding-off on the ratification bill passed by his parliament, and Vaclav Klaus of the Czech Republic said he wanted a constitutional court to decide the issue. The German President, Horst Kochler, was taking similar action, though not with any proclaimed intention to stop the Treaty going through.

Matters had come to a head at the recent Brussels summit of EU leaders (19-20.6.08), where Europe’s problems with energy supplies were overshadowed by the arguments over the Treaty.

On the day the new Presidency began, Smriti Chawla spoke, in Brussels with Geoff Meade, Europe Editor of the Press Association, and one of the longest-serving writers on European affairs.


Has the summit made any progress in the towards solving the problem with the Lisbon treaty?

None at all. The summit was only 1 week and 10 days after the Irish said No to the Lisbon treaty and there was no time to resolve the issue. (00.49)

What happened at the summit was that the French President promised that it will be his priority to solve this problem and starting today will try and find a solution. The official meeting is in October where the Irish PM will come forth with ideas to try and resolve the crisis.

Is the cost of oil and energy Europe’s biggest problem?

Nicolas Sarkozy has a big problem on his hand as three member states: Germany, Czech Republic and Poland are beginning to question whether it is worth even continuing with the Lisbon Treaty, along with being hugely concerned with problems of fuel and food prices.

He wants to resolve these issues during his presidency but it is hard to see how much progress can be made because they are global issues, and Europe cannot resolve the question on its own.

What is the future for the European Union? More success or more failures?

The EU has been successful in all sorts of areas but of course, it has failed in many areas, like the Lisbon treaty is now a failure.

Most members see the Union as continual enlargement, and everybody sees the virtue in increasing in size as part of doing this together.

Won’t this create more problems?

Yes, as a political family, it becomes much harder to agree with 27 countries, that’s why we have had problems with other treaties like the Lisbon treaty, because there are many different cultures now in Europe. Like in Central Europe, where there are different cultures, different backgrounds and different views. Now, they are planning to expanding to Turkey, which is moving Europe closer to the Asian area.

Any solution in sight for the Lisbon treaty?

Well the summit will meet again in August where the Irish Government will be presented with the treaty to change the language to make it easier to understand and ask them to vote again.

Reference: “Europe: Les quatre chantiers de Nicola Sarkozy” (Sarkozy’s four work projects for Europe), Le Monde, Paris, 30.6.08. – lettre titres, (30.6.08)

Picture: Geoff Meade speaks with Smriti Chawla at the European Commission, Brussels