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Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

28.10.10: Buzek clashes with EU leaders over 'un-European' budget - 0 views

  • A compromise on the 2011 EU budget is likely to coalesce around a three-percent increase compared to this year's spending after a vivid discussion among EU leaders and the European Parliament's chief about the rationale of raising the figure when most capitals are being forced to cut their own budgets.
  • The meeting, which usually consists of EU Parliament chief Jerzy Buzek reading out a statement and then leaving, took an extra hour to wrap up, as British Prime Minister David Cameron intervened to counter the parliament's plea for a six percent increase in the EU budget. Roughly a dozen other leaders then intervened as well, mostly backing the British premier. The Belgian and the Greek prime ministers were among the few who supported Mr Buzek's plea.
  • He also underlined that the parliament is willing to compromise on the six-percent figure, as long as there is "serious talk" about ensuring future funding for the EU's old and new policies. The Lisbon Treaty, he argued, had created new tasks for the EU: "More responsibilities means more funds." "It is absolutely necessary to have a compromise and finish [budget talks] in three weeks and then we want to start a serious discussion about future funding of EU policies. This is about the future of the EU itself. When we talk about cuts, we also have to think about the cost of non-Europe, of not having the added value of the EU."
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

28.10.10: EU leaders give green light to tweak treaty in order to allow for the creatio... - 0 views

  • European Union leaders have come to a consensus that the bloc's treaty must be changed, although only in a limited fashion, in order to allow for the creation of a permanent bail-out fund for member states. "Today we took important decisions to strengthen the euro," European Council President Herman Van Rompuy told reporters at a press conference in the early morning hours of Friday (29 October).
  • Initially horrified at the Franco-German demand for a wholesale re-writing of the EU rulebook only a year after the Lisbon Treaty had been approved, the other EU leaders are now warming to the idea of a "limited" tweaking of the treaty in a way that they hope will avoid major political fall-out. "Heads of state and government agree on the need for member states to establish a permanent crisis mechanism to safeguard the financial stability of the euro area as a whole and invite the president of the European Council to undertake consultations with the members of the European Council on a limited treaty change required to that effect," the draft conclusions of a two-day summit in Brussels read.
  • "No country is opposed in principle to a moderate treaty change but they want to know what the political and legal consequences of this would be," said one source close to the discussions. Two moves have been tentatively agreed. EU Council President Herman Van Rompuy is to be tasked with exploring whether such a limited change can be done via a simplified revision procedure, in which EU leaders can make the change without having to call a full Intergovernmental Conference (IGC) - involving negotiations between the governments, consultations with the European Parliament and the participation of the European Commission, which could open a Pandora's Box of other new proposals. Mr Van Rompuy would also explore whether legally this can be done without the tweak having to be presented to national parliaments for approval, which would almost certainly grind down the process, or even further, whether such a move would provoke referendums in some countries, notably Ireland, which maintains a constitutional requirement that any shift in powers from Dublin to Brussels be approved in a vote by the people. He would report back to the European Council in December.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

28.10.10: Battle over treaty change divides Europe ahead of summit - 0 views

  • Just one year after the second Irish referendum on the Lisbon Treaty - one of the most bitter political battles in EU history - France and Germany are coming into an EU summit ready to pitch the idea of rewriting the legal pact. As the premiers and presidents of the bloc's 27 states arrive in Brussels on Thursday (28 October) for a two-day summit intended to endorse new fiscal rules, a last-minute deal between two of the EU's most powerful countries has caused shocked and anger across the continent.
  • Last week at a bilateral pow-wow in Deauville, France, President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel cut a deal in which Berlin backed Paris in its desire to water down sanctions to be imposed on excessive-spending EU countries. In return, Paris endorsed Berlin's push for a change to the EU treaty in order to set-up an EU bailout fund and default mechanism. Ms Merkel is adamant that her country cannot endorse a repeat of the emergency bail-outs cobbled together this spring. Germany is the main bankroller of the €110 billion loan to Greece and of the European Financial Stability Fund (EFSF), the yet-to-be-tapped €440 billion rescue mechanism for the eurozone as a whole. Both of these funds have an expiry date of 2013 and Berlin is looking to see that something more substantial replaces them before then. The default mechanism would signal to investors that they, rather than taxpayers alone, would be on the hook for at least part of the costs of the bankruptcy of a country. The mechanism is designed to deal with sovereign defaults without setting off a cascading panic in the markets similar to the Greek debt crisis that shook Europe in spring. The idea is highly controversial, with even the reticent European Central Bank chief Jean-Claude Trichet voicing steadfast opposition.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

26.10.10: Serbia rushes to launch accession talks - 0 views

  • The EU moved closer to starting accession talks with Serbia yesterday (25 October) after overcoming long-standing opposition from the Dutch government. Belgrade said a "new era" in its history had begun. BETA, EurActiv's partner in Serbia, contributed to this article.
  • Meeting in Luxembourg, EU foreign ministers found a formula to unblock the launch of accession talks with Serbia. The diplomatic jargon adopted accommodates the Netherlands' demand that any further step in Serbia's EU accession must be conditional on Belgrade's cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY). The move became possible after Belgrade agreed to engage in talks with Kosovo, its former province, whose declaration of independence in 2008 Serbia does not recognise. Dutch Foreign Minister Uri Rosenthal said he was satisfied that the compromise text had put "pressure" on Serbia to fully cooperate with the ICTY. Steven Vanackere, Belgium's foreign minister, whose country holds the rotating EU presidency, praised the "good balance" of the text. In fact, Belgium made a huge contribution to successfully reaching the compromise. It had to step aside from its own national position as its duty at the EU’s helm is to seek a common position. Jean de Ruyt, Belgium's EU ambassador, told EurActiv that his country's stance on the need for full cooperation with ICTY mirrored the Dutch view.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

29.06.10 Belgium to take merit-based approach to EU enlargement - 0 views

  • Although Belgium is among the most cautious in the European Union when it comes to enlargement, there is a good chance that its forthcoming EU Presidency will be particularly productive in this policy area. At their presentation of the upcoming Belgian presidency's priorities last Friday, Yves Leterme, Belgium's caretaker prime minister and its foreign minister, Steven Vanackere, sounded much like their colleagues from the Netherlands - and not just because they spoke Dutch. The Belgian approach to enlargement is similar to the stance in the Hague: no promises, no dates, just "strict and fair" rules.
  • The next six months could mark important progress for the Western Balkan countries despite Belgium's cautious line. Croatia could close all but one of the negotiation chapters. Macedonia is close to getting a date for the opening of accession negotiations with the EU. Montenegro can count on a positive "avis" (opinion) from the European Commission for its candidate status. The Serbian application could be forwarded to the EU commission for an opinion on Serbia's readiness to become a candidate as well. Kosovo might receive some kind of a roadmap for its Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) with the EU. Bosnia-Herzegovina and Albania can hope for visa liberalisation before the end of the year. Croatia is well-placed to close all its negotiation chapters, with the exception of the famous No. 23 on Judiciary and Fundamental Rights, which will remain to be concluded during the Hungarian Presidency in the first half of 2011. Still, problems could emerge with othe chapters, for example competition. Macedonia is close to finding a win-win solution to its name dispute with Greece. Talking to WAZ.EUobserver, EU diplomats in Brussels expressed cautious optimism that the name problem could be solved in the next months. This would allow the EU finally to set the date that Skopje has been waiting for since 2005 - for formal negotiations to start on Macedonia's entry into the EU.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

23.06.10: Belgium to move quietly on EU enlargement policy - 0 views

  • The upcoming Belgian EU Presidency has not specifically cited enlargement among its top priorities but is widely expected to help Croatia and Iceland reach important milestones in their accession bids over the next six months.
  • Croatia is expected to conclude its EU accession negotiations during the Belgian EU Presidency, while Iceland will formally start membership talks, political analysts told EurActiv. Although officially Belgium is being "discrete" as to its intentions (see 'Background'), Croatia can expect to finalise membership talks during Belgian Presidency, which starts on 1 July, according to Piotr Maciej Kaczyński of the Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS) in Brussels.
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