MEPs hail Merkel’s Reform Treaty success

The European Parliament gave a broadly positive verdict on the Reform Treaty deal struck by the German Presidency at the EU Summit on 21-23 June.

Positions

German Chancellor Angela Merkel told MEPs that with the deal struck at the Summit the EU’s internal rules and policies had been overhauled. She said: "Europe can once again look forward to a period of strength and confidence."

Merkel added that the new Treaty would strengthen the role of the European Parliament, putting it on "equal footing in legislation" with the Council and giving it the right to elect the future Commission president.

Commission President José Manuel Barroso said: "The results of the European Council are excellent. We started from a division between eighteen member states that had ratified the Constitutional Treaty and nine member states that had not ratified. We have now all twenty-seven member states united around a common mandate for a Reform Treaty.”

He added that the ratification process should be seen as "a great moment of solidarity and unity in Europe and as an historic opportunity to consolidate EU enlargement".

EPP-ED group leader Joseph Daul said that the German presidency had been "the tiger in Europe’s motor".

Socialist group leader Martin Schulz praised Merkel for her achievement of securing a detailed mandate for a new Treaty. He said that the summit had "achieved a great deal" and was "a large step forward". Attacking the continuing lack of openness in the Council, Schulz said that references to a crisis in Europe were not about the European institutions but the Union's governments.

Liberal MEP Graham Watson noted that the "agreement came at a price". He said the reformed Treaty now "reads like the instructions for building a Japanese pagoda translated into English by a Chinese middle-man".

Conservative MEP Timothy Kirkhope said: "There is something not quite right about the draft reform Treaty and the people know it. Labour maintains that it bears little resemblance to the Constitutional Treaty that preceded it.  Yet heads of government throughout Europe have contradicted this assessment."

GUE/NGL group President Francis Wurtz questioned the scrapping of the mention of "free and undistorted competition" among the Union's objectives. He asked: "What will change in terms of free competition? And will these changes affect or not affect the substance of the Constitutional Treaty?" He called for a "public and pluralist debate on the future Treaty" and an EU-wide referendum to be held.

Background

German Chancellor Angela Merkel managed to clinch a deal on a Reform Treaty, overcoming the two-year institutional impasse following the French and Dutch 'No' votes on the EU Constitution. The new EU Treaty is expected to be finalised at an IGC under the Portuguese EU Presidency during the second half of 2007, allowing for ratification in the 27 member states before the European elections in 2009.

The Treaty deal was a close call, with the German Presidency overcoming British and Polish opposition and brokering an agreement in the early hours of 23 June. However, Merkel was criticised for her concessions to the two eurosceptic countries, which ended up complicating the original draft text. But the German Chancellor also came under fire from NGOs for having gone back to "closed-door negotiations", leaving citizens out of the debate.

Timeline

  • July 2007: An Intergovernmental Conference (IGC) will be convened under the Portuguese EU Presidency.
  • 18-19 Oct. 2007: The IGC is expected to conclude, with EU leaders agreeing on the final text for the Reform Treaty.

Further Reading

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