Parliament to vote on enlargement despite budget dispute

The European Parliament is expected to give its
assent to the EU Accession Treaty with 10 future Member States
despite the financing row that threatens to cripple the Union’s
budgetary procedure.

The MEPs will vote on the report by Chair of the Foreign
Affairs Committee, German Conservative MEP Elmar Brok, on
the conclusions of the Copenhagen negotiations on
enlargement. The Parliament's assent is a legal
prerequisite for the signing of the Accession Treaty on 16
April in Athens.

The Parliament has been putting pressure
on the Council for weeks to remove the disputed Annex XV
from the Treaty because it encroaches on the Parliament's
rights to co-decision in budgetary matters by fixing the
budget for the future Member States. However, no agreement
could be found before the vote in the Parliament.

Some MEPs have threatened to vote
against enlargement to force the Council to respect the
interinstitutional agreement of May 1999 on budgetary
discipline. The absolute majority of all the members (314
of 626 votes) is needed to approve the Accession Treaty,
and there are fears of defections in all political groups
despite the general support for enlargement.


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