Eyes turn to France at EU summit

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Only one country is opposed to give observer status to Eastern European non-eurozone countries in the new intergovernmental 'fiscal compact' treaty, diplomats told EURACTIV. EU leaders meet on Monday (30 January) to agree on the treaty on tighter fiscal rules to preserve the eurozone from new crises.

No agreement on the status of non-eurozone members was reached at ministerial level ahead of the extraordinary EU summit on Monday, diplomats told EURACTIV.

The summit is officially dedicated to growth and jobs, but in substance is seen as the launching of the new intergovernmental fiscal stability treaty in the eurozone.

Even though 'sherpas' were still discussing texts at the time of publishing of this article, sources confirmed that the deadlock could be solved only by heads of state and government.

The Bulgarian President Rossen Plevneliev who was on his first Brussels visit yesterday (26 January) told journalists his country was supportive of Poland, who has spearheaded the idea that non-eurozone countries who wish to join the economic and monetary union should be allowed to take part in meetings of the single-currency states.

However, the non-eurozone countries are not a united front. Lithuania for one has officially stated that it would join the 'fiscal compact' treaty, diplomats from this country confirmed.

On Tuesday Bulgarian finance minister Simeon Djankov said in Brussels that his country wanted the status of observer to the 'fiscal compact' and that it had the support of Germany.

Diplomats explained that indeed, Berlin was supportive that the non-eurozone countries would have observer status, because even if they wouldn't vote, in many cases they would be supporting the German positions.

According to the draft of the 'fiscal compact' treaty, France has a larger alliance-building capacity than Germany, diplomats said.

Article 7 puts in place a system that can reject the Commission proposal to impose an excessive deficit procedure, when a qualified majority, calculated by analogy to EU decision making, is opposed to the decision proposed.

According to diplomats, France could "count on the full South", while Germany was at disadvantage.

Diplomats said the "reality check" would be on Monday, with the odds being that Eastern Europe would get a "participating/not-voting" status.

 

An agreement to tighten fiscal discipline in the wider EU-27 proved impossible at the 8-9 December EU summit, after British Prime Minister David Cameron demanded that London's financial district be exempted from financial market regulations.

Faced with a UK veto, EU leaders agreed that a new intergovernmental treaty (fiscal compact) should tighten fiscal discipline in the eurozone and address the bloc’s debt problems.

The treaty will be signed by March 2012 and ratified by the end of the year. 

 

  • 30 Jan. 2012: EU heads of state summit on growth and jobs; fiscal compact to be on the agenda.
  • 1-2 March 2012: Fiscal compact treaty to be signed at the EU Summit in Brussels.
  • End of 2012: Target date for completing ratification process of the new treaty.

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