The Portuguese Presidency and the Commission have shown optimism that an agreement can be found on the proposed Reform Treaty at a crucial summit in Lisbon next week. They were in Parliament yesterday to update MEPs on the issue as Poland remains the last stumbling block.
Manuel Lobo Antunes, Portugal’s Europe Minister, and Commission Vice-President Margot Wallström were speaking in Parliament on 10 October to outline the state of preparations on the EU’s proposed new Treaty.
With only days remaining before the Lisbon Summit on 18-19 October, Poland is emerging as the last possible stumbling block.
Polish demands focus on the insertion of a clause into the new EU Treaty text – the so-called Ioannina compromise – a complex system that allows key decisions in the Council to be delayed, even when there is no blocking minority among EU ministers.
President Lech Kaczynski sought to reassure his European partners earlier this week, declaring during a visit to Paris that the chances of finding an agreement in Lisbon were “95-98%” (EURACTIV 9/10/07).
But his twin brother, Prime Minister Jaroslav Kaczynski, decided to take a hard line just one day later. Speaking to Polish radio on 9 October, the Polish PM said: “We want to see Ioannina have the force of law. There are many methods by which this can happen. A protocol for example would be entirely satisfactory to us.”
The Poles are asking for the Ioannina clause to be included in the protocols of the Treaty, instead of having it merely attached in a separate “declaration”. This would upgrade to legal status the Ioannina clause by which decisions could be substantially postponed.