Wednesday, June 27, 2007

EU Treaty: Towards a "Reform" Treaty in July

So the EU Summit of heads of states and governments in the EU has decided that a "Reform Treaty" will be drafted by an Intergovernmental Conference (IGC) in July.


Elements:


The new Treaty will not replace the previous EU Treaties, in order to keep its volume down (the previous failed draft of the Treaty consolidated all previous EU Treaties thus was too big and that led to misinterpretations of its nature)

No new EU symbols will be introduced (that gave the idea of a Super-State)


Voluntary withdrawal of a member state from the EU will be possible under the new Treaty. Sounds reasonable!


Qualified Majority Voting (QMV) based decisions will need the support of 55% of member states representing 65% of the EU's population but the system will be introduced after 2014 and phazed over 3 years (to 2017), due to Poland's wishes.

QMV will be extended to cover up to 50 new policy areas, primarily related to police and judicial matters. The UK has been given the right to opt out of criminal matters and police co-operation!

Due to the UK's and some other member's insistence, national veto power will be maintained in the areas of:

culture

defence,

foreign affairs

taxation

social security



There will be a president of the European Council, elected by EU leaders for a 2.5 year term. This means no more rotating of the Presidency to all EU states every 6 months!

Instead of an "EU Foreign Minister" there will be a High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy", acting as one of the VPs of the European Commission!

As of 2014, only two-thirds of the member states will appoint a Commissioner in the "Commissioners' College" in any 5-year term.



The European Union will have the status of a legal person.

To assuage fears that it is developing into a super-state, the IGC has been tasked to agree on the following declaration: "The conference confirms that the fact that the European Union has a legal personality will not in any way authorise the Union to legislate or to act beyond the competences conferred upon it by the member states in the treaties."


CHARTER OF FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS
Britain has been allowed to opt out of a 50-article charter containing an exhaustive list of well-established rights - from freedom of speech and religion to the right to shelter, education and fair working conditions.

The UK was concerned at the charter's impact on business and its legal system.

Moreover, the charter will not become part of the treaty - it will just be referred to.


NATIONAL PARLIAMENTS
The period given to national parliaments to examine draft legislative texts and to give a reasoned opinion on subsidiarity will be extended from six to eight weeks.

National parliaments may demand, if a certain threshold is reached, that the European Commission re-examine a draft act they deem to be an encroachment on their national competences.


This was a major concern for the Netherlands.


SOLIDARITY
A reference has been included to EU solidarity in the event of an energy supply problem.


This came at the insistence of Lithuania and Poland, concerned at their own high dependence on Russian hydrocarbons.



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