The Portuguese Presidency has unveiled a legally-updated version of the EU’s new Reform Treaty, ahead of a key summit in Lisbon on 18-19 October. But Poland has already threatened to reject the text, which fails to satisfy its demands for stronger voting rights.
The text of the Reform Treaty was revealed in all EU languages on 5 October – two weeks ahead of an informal summit in Lisbon, where heads of state and government are due to rubber stamp the agreement.
Commission President José Manuel Barroso said he believed that the text – considered crucial for overcoming the institutional impasse into which the EU was plunged two years ago when France and the Netherlands rejected the draft EU Constitution – “correctly reflected the consensus amongst the 27 member states”.
However, the document, which broadly sticks to the original mandate approved by EU leaders in June and leaves out a number of tricky political issues, could still face a bumpy ride.
Indeed, it ignores Poland’s demand to include in the Treaty the so-called “Ioannina Compromise”, allowing for a country to significantly delay a key decision even if it does not have enough votes to block it.
With general elections to be held in Poland on 21 October, the country is unlikely to give in lightly to pressure from its counterparts to agree on a text that it feels fails to reflect its position as one of the six largest EU countries.
Diplomats have said that leaders may attempt to appease Warsaw with a political declaration rather than including the clause in the Treaty.
“I am confident that political agreement can be reached on the remaining open issues at the Lisbon informal European Council on 18-19 October,” said Barroso.
One country which had previously also been critical of the Treaty – Britain – has welcomed the text. “We are pleased with the package,” a government spokesman said. “It delivers our red lines on justice and home affairs. We will now read the treaty carefully to check that it contains all of our red lines in full.”
Nevertheless, even if a deal is struck among leaders, the text will still need to be ratified by all 27 member states – a process which could include risky referenda in a number of countries.
Indeed, although Ireland is the only country which is constitutionally bound to a popular vote, others had said they were waiting for the final text before deciding how to ratify it.
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown is also under pressure to hold a referendum from the opposition Conservative Party, which claims the new document is almost identical to the rejected Constitution.