Following a number of bilateral talks and round table meetings, diplomats were hopeful to reach an agreement among EU leaders on a ‘Reform Treaty’ on 22 June. However, key elements remained uncertain as the Summit promises to bring another late night of discussion.
Following intensive talks with the most critical delegations from Poland, the UK, the Netherlands and the Czech Republic, it remains open on 22 June whether EU leaders would be able to return to their countries with an agreement.
Austrian Chancellor Alfred Gusenbauer said in the afternoon that he was optimistic about finding an agreement, but added that “it is still a long way to go” and that there was no “breakthrough” yet.
He told journalists that he saw consensus emerging on the issues of a EU foreign minister and Sarkozy’s proposal to scrap a reference to “free and undistorted competition”. Gusenbauer added that it is likely that there will be an “EU High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy” double-hatted as Commission vice-president and chairing Council foreign affairs meetings.
Negotiations over the status of the Charter of Fundamental Rights and the Council voting system promise to drag on, with diplomats preparing for late night negotiations.
Poland remains opposed to the proposed “double majority” voting system, but diplomats are optimistic that a solution can be found. A compromise formula could include a sort of “Ioannina clause”, making it possible to verify decisions taken at a narrow majority, as well as prolonging the use of the current voting system, which gives Poland and Spain a high number of votes vis-à-vis the biggest member states. Poland seeks to keep the current system until 2020, but it is speculated that a compromise of 2012 might be found.
A French government spokesperson said: “France and Germany are doing all they can to come to an agreement on the voting rights issue” by this Friday. He added: “This is the moment of truth. We have never been that close to an agreement as well as to a standoff.”
The German Presidency is expected to present a new version of the IGC mandate text tonight, which is said to be “close to the final version” and shall be discussed by EU leaders over dinner.
A high-ranking Portuguese diplomat told EURACTIV that he was “optimistic” and that the atmosphere was “increasingly positive” towards reaching a favourable outcome. He said: “The Portuguese Presidency needs a precise mandate. We need to know what to do next and should not leave things open.”