European leaders on Thursday (18 October) reached a deal on a new ‘Reform Treaty’, ending two years of stalemate following the rejection of the draft EU Constitution in 2005. But attention is now soon to turn to ratification, with several countries under pressure to hold a referendum on the new text.
EU leaders on 18 October agreed on a final text of the new EU Treaty at an informal summit in Lisbon. Portuguese Prime Minister José Socrates presented the ‘Lisbon Treaty’ deal to journalists on Thursday evening. He said: “With this accord Europe has emerged from its institutional crisis.”
However, some last-minute requests and red lines had to be catered for before the deal was struck:
- Poland managed to include the so-called Ioannina clause in a Protocol. This allows for a minority of member states to delay key decisions taken by qualified majority in the Council “within a reasonable space of time”, even if they do not dispose of a blocking minority. However, the clause is not included in the actual Treaty text, which means that member states can alter this provision without having to go through the cumbersome procedure of Treaty change.
- Italy obtained an extra seat in the European Parliament, putting it back on equal footing with the UK, but giving it one seat less than France.
- The UK defended its “red lines” and received wide-ranging opt-outs on cooperation in justice and home affairs. The UK and Poland also opted out of the Charter of Fundamental Rights.
Key institutional reforms that the new Treaty will bring include the streamlining of decision-making in the Council, a permanent Council President and an EU foreign policy representative being member of the Council and the Commission, reducing the number of Commissioners and strengthening the role of national parliaments (see LinksDossier).