Council offers compromise to EP to allow endorsement of enlargement

The President-in-office of the European Council, the Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis, has offered a compromise solution to the dispute on the financing of enlargement. The compromise may end the disagreement that is holding the European Parliament from ratifying the Accession Treaty.

The ratification of the Accession Treaty in the European Parliament, due to take place on 9 April, is the legal pre-requisite for the formal signing of the Treaty in Athens on 16 April. However, the Parliament refuses to ratify the Treaty in its current form because the deal on the financing of enlargement, attached to the Treaty as Annex XV, breaches the Interinstitutional Agreement of 6 May 1999, according to which any adjustment to the financial perspective in the event of enlargement is a matter for a joint decision by the Council and the European Parliament (see EURACTIV of 17 March 2003).

Mr Simitis rejected the proposal from the European Parliament President Pat Cox to remove Annex XV. However, he indicated a possibility for a compromise based on the proposal of the parliamentary Foreign Affairs and Budget Committees. The two committees proposed at their joint meeting on 19 March that the figures in Annex XV are of indicative nature. The Council could adopt a declaration allowing a flexible interpretation of the budget figures for the first three years after enlargement (2004-2006).

The Parliament is expected to discuss the issue at its Brussels plenary session on 26 and 27 March. If an agreement is reached, the Parliament will put the ratification of the Accession Treaty on the agenda of its next plenary session on 7-11 April, just in time for the formal signature of the Treaty in Athens on 16 April.


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