Understanding the Brussels agreement on Reform Treaty

DISCLAIMER: All opinions in this column reflect the views of the author(s), not of EURACTIV Media network.

On 23 July, the EU launched an Intergovernmental Conference to provide a legal basis for the June Summit’s political agreement, and prepare a text to revise the current treaties. Jean-Dominique Giuliani of the Robert Schuman Foundation outlines the new perspectives that will potentially become European policy following this turning point.

The Brussels agreement on the Reform Treaty salvaged the main institutional reforms of the Constitution rejected in 2005 and added other clauses which reveal a decline in enthusiasm for Europe, according to the author. 

Nevertheless, these clauses should not have real legal consequences, he says. While the UK is using this opportunity to shirk from new community policies, the Czechs and Poles have pushed to abandon the Union’s symbol, flag, hymns and motto. 

The Reform Treaty will therefore amend the existing EU framework Treaty establishing the European Community and Treaty of the European Union – while taking into account the outcome of the Brussels agreement. The new Treaty will include:

  • A stricter definition of the Union and member states; 
  • a specified foreign and security policy; 
  • an intervention and scrutiny role for national parliaments; 
  • police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters, and; 
  • a mechanism that will allow some member states to take European integration further. 

The Charter of Fundamental Rights is not included in the Treaty but an Article will refer to its binding nature and scope. Moreover, climate change policies will be included, for the first time, into the European Treaties. 

The Reform Treaty takes into account concerns raised during a period of crisis but encourages the creation of increasingly specialised circles of cooperation, notes the paper. They are already numerous –Schengen, Euro, Prüma – and others could emerge – the Charter of Fundamental Rights, police and judicial cooperation – and even be multiplied with defence policy and the Mediterranean Union, notes the author. 

However, global issues will need to be addressed at EU level and will accelerate European integration, he argues. Giuliani finally observes recurrent and new issues such as immigration, defence and security, economic and monetary policies, consumer policies and transatlantic relations – which will be addressed by the EU following global pressure. 

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