Parliament pushes for ‘Treaty plus’

MEPs have threatened to vote down a new EU Treaty that would fail to preserve the key elements of the draft EU Constitution, as Parliament struggles to make its voice heard ahead of the June Summit on institutional reform.

Debating a report on the road map for the EU’s constitutional process on 6 June 2007, MEPs called for a more ambitious solution than just a mini-Treaty and defended their proposal for a “Treaty plus”.

Conservative MEP Iñigo Méndez de Vigo said: “You have got to listen to everyone and not just those who want less Europe.” He added: “Our hands will not be trembling if we have to reject the Treaty, which comes out of the intergovernmental conference if we think it does not match our expectations.”

Spelling out a clear warning, Socialist MEP and chairman of the constitutional affairs committee Jo Leinen said: “We do not understand why some governments want to take some aspects out. It will not work, we will not accept it.” He added: “We want a Treaty plus, not a Treaty minus. We will not accept an agreement at any price.”

The new Treaty text would be agreed by EU leaders, most likely under the Portuguese EU Presidency, which takes over for the second half of 2007. Following a meeting with French President Nicolas Sarkozy, Portuguese Prime Minister José Sócrates told reporters on 4 June 2007 that he supports his idea to adopt a slimmed-down Treaty.

Parliament spokesperson Federico de Girolamo explained that there is no precedent of the Parliament vetoing an EU Treaty, however he said that “a strong negative opinion by the Parliament would pose a political problem” to EU leaders. He expects the EU assembly to put forward a resolution following the IGC, which is to take place during the second half of 2007.

Germany's Europe Minister Günter Gloser told MEPs that the Parliament's report was "consistent with the German Presidency's aims for the June Summit". He added: "We have arrived at a very hot, very sensitive phase."

Communications Commissioner Margot Wallström said: "Keeping a high level of ambition is essential. A lowest common denominator solution might bring short-term relief, but it could store up problems for the future."

Socialist MEP and Constitutional Affairs Committee Chairman Jo Leinen spoke out against a minimalist solution. He said: "The Parliament is against the idea of a mini-Treaty. We would like a constitutional 'Treaty plus' rather than a constitutional Treaty minus."

MEP and EPP-ED group Chairman Joseph Daul said: "Whether you call it a simplified or fundamental Treaty, or something else, the outline must be agreed on at the June Summit.” Daul also expressed his wish that parliaments be given “a strong representation” in the Intergovernmental Conference that will adopt the new Treaty. He added: "Both the distinguished and highly competent European Parliament representatives and members of national parliaments should make their voices heard and be fully associated in the work of such a Conference", he said.

President of the Young European Federalists (JEF), Jan Seifert stated: "We are truly disappointed by the report. Not only because a document like this should have been adopted before the German presidency to actually influence the Sherpa negotiations, but also because it clearly lacks a concrete direction and fails to tackle crucial points."

The German Presidency is currently finalising consultations with member states ahead of the European Summit on 21-22 June, when heads of state and governments are set to decide on a timeline and sketch out the main elements of a new Treaty.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is eager to find a solution to the institutional impasse, which can satisfy both the 'Yes' camp, the 18 member states that have ratified the Constitutional Treaty, as well as those who have rejected the EU Constitution, France and the Netherlands. The UK, Poland and the Czech Republic are also critical of the draft EU Constitution.

The European Parliament does not have a legal right to veto a new Treaty text, which will be decided upon by heads of state and governments in an intergovernmental conference. However, an opposition by the European assembly, representing the Union's citizens would come as a political blow to EU leaders.

  • 21-22 June 2007: The EU Summit in Brussels is set to put the Union on the road for a new Treaty.
  • Second half of 2007: The June Summit is expected to give a mandate for an intergovernmental conference, to take place under Portuguese Presidency.

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