Poland ‘very optimistic’ over new EU Treaty deal

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Polish President Lech Kaczynski said he was ’95-98%’ confident that the EU will come to an agreement on the proposed Reform Treaty following a meeting with French President Nicholas Sarkozy, just days ahead of the summit that is set to seal the final accord.

In an attempt to iron out possible last-minute objections to the new EU Reform Treaty – which was unveiled by legal experts last week – French President Nicholas Sarkozy met his Polish counterpart Lech Kaczynski on 8 October in Paris.

“I am convinced that we will be able to come to an agreement,” Kaczynski said at a press conference following the talks, and added: “I estimate at 95-98% the chances of success in Lisbon.”

Remaining worries include Poland’s demand to include the so-called Ioannina compromise in the new EU Treaty text, which is currently not included in the draft, but should figure in a separate text. The Ioannina compromise is a complex system which allows EU decisions to be delayed if a number of member states have grave concerns, even if they do not constitute a blocking minority.

However, Kaczynski played down the issue, saying: “The questions that still must be resolved are questions of detail.”

EU leaders are to agree on a new EU treaty that will allow major reform of the Union’s institutions when they meet at an informal summit in Lisbon on 18-19 October 2007. 

According to EU diplomats, Poland is the only uncertainty remaining. Legal experts have recently been able to resolve most of the other issues, such as the UK opt-out of the Charter of Fundamental Rights and certain measures related to the Schengen agreement on passport-free travel (see EURACTIV 03/10/07).

Meanwhile, British MPs on the European scrutiny committee fueled the debate on a possible UK referendum by saying that the new EU Treaty was “substantially equivalent” to the draft EU Constitution rejected by voters in France and the Netherlands in 2005. Conservative MEP Timothy Kirkhope said: “The refusal of Gordon Brown to give way to the growing demands for a referendum demonstrates that the government cannot be trusted. This Labour government promised the British people a referendum and the time has come to deliver on that promise.”

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