The EU is hopeful of finalising its new ‘Reform Treaty’ in less than six weeks, despite renewed worries over the upcoming Polish elections to be held on 21 October, foreign ministers announced after an informal meeting on 7-8 September.
EU foreign affairs ministers meeting in Viana do Castelo, Portugal, expressed their confidence that the Intergovernmental Conference (IGC) will be able to wrap up the Treaty talks in time for the EU Summit on 18-19 October in Lisbon.
However, the decision by the Polish parliament to hold early elections on 21 October raised concern. Some fear that a new Polish government could question the deal to be clinched in October and raise last-minute objections before the scheduled signing of the new Treaty by heads of states and governments in December.
“We have a timetable and we are sticking to that ambition. We all agreed we should conclude at the upcoming Summit in October,” said Portuguese Foreign Minister Luis Amado, whose country currently holds the EU Presidency.
Communication and Institutional Relations Commissioner Margot Wallström said: “Of course there are problems that still have to be solved, but there was a wish to do it by discussion and by finding a good way of co-operating and looking after concrete proposals that have been put on the table.”
At the meeting, Polish Foreign Minister Ana Fotyga said that her country was also seeking an opt-out on the Charter of Fundamental Rights, joining the UK in their exemption from the rules, while Ireland had backed away from this option. Poland also seeks to include the so-called Joannina Compromise, whereby a member state can delay a decision if it feels its vital interests are touched, in the new Treaty text.
The three MEPs represented at the IGC underlined the importance of the Charter, as well as the status of EU citizenship in the Treaties, and asked for further clarifications on the UK’s position in the area of freedom, justice and security.