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Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

04.03.11: Federalists in attempt to upgrade Lisbon Treaty - 0 views

  • Leading MEP Andrew Duff has tabled "federalist" proposals to enable future EU treaty revisions to be made with a four-fifths majority of member states, in a bid to bypass the UK's 'referendum lock' on any further treaty amendments.
  • Duff gave a group of Brussels journalists a copy of a letter he sent yesterday (3 March) to European Parliament President Jerzy Buzek, in which he calls for a revision of Article 48 of the Lisbon Treaty. If Duff's proposal was to succeed, future EU treaty amendments could enter into force if a four-fifths majority of member countries ratify the treaty change, instead of all member countries as is currently the case. Before any treaty change, unanimity at an Intergovernmental conference (IGC) still remains essential.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

03.11.10: EU leaders back 'limited' treaty change, budget cap - 0 views

  • Britain and other European Union countries put their weight behind Franco-German calls for tougher eurozone rules at a summit today (29 October), agreeing on "limited" changes to the EU's main treaty in return for a cap on the EU budget.
  • Officials struggled to deliver the message that legal tricks could accommodate both Germany's push for treaty change and conflicting calls from several other countries which had rejected the idea. Regarding treaty change, the key word is "simplified", officials explained. A simplified provision, enshrined in Article 48, Section 6 of the Lisbon Treaty, allows member countries to unanimously adopt a decision amending all or part of the main elements of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU (TFEU), which governs how the Union carries out its work. Such a procedure would avoid the need to call a constitutional convention, experts explained. In addition, the European Parliament would only be "consulted" instead of enjoying full voting rights as part of the normal co-decision procedure. The changes to the treaty are to be settled by mid-2013, before the expiry of the present emergency fund agreed earlier this year to deal with crises such as the one that hit Greece. The objective is to replace that with a permanent mechanism. The simplified treaty change procedure will not enter into force until it is approved by member states in accordance with their constitutions. Most EU countries are expected to ratify the decision by a simplified procedure in their parliaments. As for Ireland, it remains unclear whether a change effected in this way would require another referendum.
  • UK Prime Minister David Cameron appears to have been instrumental in forging a deal, lending his backing to Franco-German calls for treaty change in return for keeping a lid on the EU's 2011 budget. 11 member states, including Britain, France and Germany, will send a letter to the European Commission and Parliament today saying that their plans to increase the EU budget by 5.9% in 2011 are "especially unacceptable at a time when we are having to take difficult decisions at national level to control public expenditure". The letter was signed by the leaders of the UK, Germany, France, the Netherlands, Sweden, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Austria, Finland, Slovenia and Estonia. The bloc's finance ministers had earlier voted for a limited increase in the EU budget of 2.9%. "We are clear that we cannot accept any more than the 2.9% increase proposed by the finance ministers," the leaders say in the letter. Cameron argued that a planned increase in the EU budget would cost his country's taxpayers the equivalent of one billion euros. The 2.9% rise would still cost them £435m (500m euros). Parliament to fight back By agreeing to cap the budget, EU leaders set themselves on a collision course with the European parliament, which has the power to approve or reject the proposed budget. Negotiations between the European Parliament and the Council, which represents the 27 member countries, over the EU's 2011 budget kicked off on 27 October (see 'Background'). "If Cameron is prepared to give up the British rebate [...] then we can for sure discuss a reduction of the budget," said Martin Schulz, leader of the Socialist & Democrats group in the European Parliament, speaking to EUX.TV, the European policy news channel powered by EurActiv. "The European budget is not to be compared with national budgets," said Schulz. "There are no own resources. We have no European taxes. We have no own money. It is money coming from the member states. We can make no debts. The British budget must be reduced because there is enormous debt. Europe has no debts," he said.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

07.09.10: The Hidden Agenda of the State of the European Union Debate - 0 views

  • I am very much interested in the (hidden) institutional framework of this debate. It is not uncommon for the Commission president to outline his legislative program before the European Parliament, as Andrew J. Burgess has pointed out. However, the new format appears similar to the US State of the Union address delivered by the President. Does this mean that Barroso sees himself as the head of state of the EU? Hardly the case, but there is some symbolic value in this endeavour.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

03.11.09: Klaus signature completes EU treaty ratification - 0 views

  • Czech President Vaclav Klaus has finally signed the Lisbon Treaty, ending a highly drawn out ratification process that left many wondering whether the document's provisions would ever see the light of day. "I signed the Lisbon Treaty today at 15.00 (CET)," Klaus told reporters on Tuesday (3 November).
  • As well as appointing a new set of commissioners, the EU can now move ahead with the planned overhaul of its institutions and the appointment of several new positions intended to increase the bloc's standing on the world stage. All of these decisions had been held up by the political uncertainty in Prague, with Mr Barroso saying he can only assemble his commission team when it is clear who will become EU foreign minister, a new post that will see the person also act as vice-president of the commission.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

07.10.09: Brussels in limbo over Klaus treaty delay - 0 views

  • The heads of the EU's three main institutions on Wednesday (7 September) came together to point out to Czech President Vaclav Klaus the "costs" to Europe if he continues to delay ratification of the Lisbon Treaty, the union's new rulebook. European Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso, European Parliament President Jerzy Buzek and Fredrik Reinfeldt, the Swedish Prime Minister and the current chair of the EU, said several pending decisions are awaiting clarification from Prague.
  • The uncertainty stems from the fact that the Czech constitutional court is examining a legal challenge to the Lisbon Treaty, lodged by senators close to Mr Klaus. It is unclear how quickly the court will make its decision and, if the decision is positive, how much later Mr Klaus would then sign the treaty, completing ratification. Time is pressing because the current commission's mandate expires at the end of October, as does the post of the current high representative for foreign affairs, held by Javier Solana. The Swedish presidency is nervous about entering uncharted legal territory. It can either keep the commission as a caretaker, but ineffectual, executive, or try to set up a new commission under the Lisbon Treaty rules. Another option would be to negotiate a new commission with the current rules, but that would mean unwanted negotiations on reducing its size.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

04.09.09: Support for Lisbon Treaty drops in Ireland - 0 views

  • With just a month to go until Ireland's second referendum on the Lisbon Treaty, a poll has shown that 46 percent support a yes vote, down eight points since May. Published by the Irish Times, the TNS mrbi poll shows a rise of one point in those saying they plan to vote No to 29 percent with the Don't Knows registering at 25 percent, up seven points in comparison to a pre-summer survey.
  • For his part, Mr Cowen has met with the main opposition parties to work out how to make the most effective Yes campaign ahead of the 2 October poll. He has also tried to persuade to voters to rise above their feelings for the government and concentrate on the issue at hand in the referendum. "I don't believe this is about the future of this government or the future of personalities, it's about the future of the country. This is not politics as usual. It goes beyond any issues of party, organisation or locality. It is about our country's future," said the prime minister on Wednesday (2 September).
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

01.09.09: Swedes plan big bang institutional summit in October - 0 views

  • - Sweden is hoping to clear up the EU's distracting institutional issues in one grand summit next month in order to drag the union's focus back to pressing international issues.

    Speaking to MEPs on Tuesday (1 September) Cecilia Malmstrom, Sweden's Europe minister, said: "Our aim is - if everything goes smoothly and the Lisbon treaty is adopted - that at the October council ...we can decide on all the institutional issues."

    The gathering of EU leaders at the end of next month should appoint the new list of commissioners, the new EU foreign minister and the president of the European Council.

    According to Mrs Malstrom, the summit should also agree a "loose framework" for the EU's fledgling diplomatic service.

  • The minister was responding to a series of questions from euro-deputies in the constitutional committee on how the Lisbon treaty – which faces a referendum in Ireland on 2 October and final approval in three other countries – should function in practice.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

EUobserver / German debate on EU decision-making powers heats up - 0 views

  • Germany's debate on how much national say there should be over further EU integration is intensifying two weeks after the country's constitutional court handed down a significant judgement on the EU's Lisbon Treaty. The judgement was initially greeted with relief by the pro-integration camp as it did not say the EU treaty was incompatible with the German constitution.
  • But the 147-page ruling, now scoured by legal and constitutional experts, is causing strong discussion in political circles, just weeks before a new draft law incorporating the court's points is to be published.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

30.06.09: Verfassungsgericht billigt EU-Reformvertrag unter Auflagen - 0 views

  • Das Bundesverfassungsgericht hat den umstrittenen EU-Reformvertrag von Lissabon nur unter Auflagen gebilligt und die Zustimmung Deutschlands vorerst gestoppt. Zuerst müssen Bundestag und Bundesrat mehr Mitbestimmungsrechte bei EU-Entscheidungen erhalten, wie die Richter am Dienstag in Karlsruhe verkündeten. Insgesamt ist das Abkommen aber mit dem Grundgesetz vereinbar. Der Bundestag will noch vor der Wahl im September die Karlsruher Forderungen umsetzen. Erst dann darf Bundespräsident Horst Köhler das deutsche Gesetz zu dem Vertrag unterzeichnen.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

25.06.09: Czech MPs mull suspension of Klaus' powers over Lisbon treaty - 0 views

  • The Czech social democrat party is discussing the possibility of suspending president Vaclav Klaus' powers if he does not sign the EU's Lisbon treaty. The temporary suspension would require a simple majority of 41 votes in the country's 81-seat senate and would allow caretaker prime minister Jan Fischer to sign the document instead.
  • The president's powers could be suspended on grounds that he is unable to discharge his official functions because he is trying to act above the law. "There is nothing in the constitution that gives the president the right to veto decisions of the country's highest institutions. Otherwise we could be considered as some kind of absolutist monarchy," former Constitutional Court judge Vojtech Cepl told newspaper Mlada fronta Dnes on Thursday (25 June).
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

18.06.09: Czech parliament should vote on Lisbon guarantees, Klaus says - 0 views

  • Czech President Vaclav Klaus has said the Czech parliament should ratify any fresh legal clauses attached to the Lisbon treaty to help Ireland clinch a Yes vote in its second referendum. EU leaders meeting in Brussels on 18-19 June are set to agree on legal guarantees for Ireland in the areas of taxation, neutrality and social affairs.
  • The extra bells and whistles are designed to help Ireland hold a second referendum on the text in autumn, after an initial No vote last summer. But it is not yet clear how the guarantees will be enshrined in EU law. The eurosceptic Czech president – a staunch opponent of the treaty – has said that the guarantees would constitute a mini-treaty in themselves. Under Czech law, any fresh international treaty must be ratified by parliament and signed by the president. "Any conclusion in another form would contradict Article 49 of the [Czech] constitution and I could not accept such a proceeding," Mr Klaus wrote to Czech Prime Minister Jan Fischer in a letter released on Wednesday (17 June). Mr Fischer rejected the request, saying a government agreement would be enough. "[The guarantees] are not an international treaty of a political nature ...but an international treaty of a governmental type which does not require the powers of the head of state to be concluded," he wrote on the government website.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

04.06.09: Irish Lisbon guarantees raise questions - 0 views

  • Ireland is busy working on legal wording to make the Lisbon Treaty more palatable to Irish voters, but its EU partners have raised concerns about the scope of the texts and some impatience at the pace of the work. Last week, officials from Dublin met representatives from the 26 other member states to shed some light on what kind of wording Ireland is looking for in order to ensure the greatest chance that its citizens will vote "Yes" the second referendum on the treaty, scheduled for autumn.
  • But the reason for the wariness among other capitals is that these texts will take the form of legally-binding protocols, which will be attached to the first legal vehicle available to get them ratified. At the moment, the talk is of Croatia's accession treaty, which will have to pass through all 27 parliaments of the EU. "We want to make sure it is very specific to Ireland, so we do not get asked why we haven't got guarantees on certain issues," said one diplomat.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

06.05.09: Trotz Senatszustimmung: Vaclav Klaus erklärt Lissabon-Vertrag für tot - 0 views

  • Am Ende war es weniger knapp als erwartet: Der tschechische Senat hat den EU-Reformvertrag angenommen. Damit hat das Werk eine große Hürde genommen. Doch die Skepsis in Tschechien, dessen Premier Topolanek den Vertrag einst einen "Haufen Mist" nannte, bleibt. Vor allem bei Präsident Klaus.
  • Der Senat stimmte für den Vertrag von Lissabon. Mit einem klareren Votum als erwartet: 54 von 79 anwesenden Senatoren stimmten mit Ja. Schon vor der Sitzung hatte sich eine Mehrheit für Lissabon angedeutet
  • Freilich, so etwa der sozialdemokratische Senator und erste Nachwende-Außenminister Jiri Dienstbier, könne Klaus nur schwerlich ignorieren, dass beide Kammern des Parlaments mit Drei-Fünftel-Mehrheit für den Reformvertrag gestimmt hätten. „Wir müssen aufhören, uns provinziell zu verhalten und Europa als etwas Fremdes anzusehen“, mahnte er. „Wir müssen aufhören zu sagen, Europa sind „die“. Europa sind in Wahrheit wir.“
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

06.05.09: Czech senate approves EU's Lisbon treaty - 0 views

  • The Czech Senate on Wednesday (6 May) approved the EU's Treaty of Lisbon, a move that was greeted with relief in Brussels and that ups the pressure on Ireland, facing its second referendum on the document. Fifty-four of the 79 senators voted in favour of the new institutional rules, which introduce an EU foreign minister, a permanent president of the European Council and widely extend the powers of the European Parliament. The lower house passed the document in February.
  • For the ratification process to be completed, the treaty still has to be signed by the country's eurosceptic president, Vaclav Klaus. He has previously indicated he would not sign it no matter what the outcome of the parliamentary votes. In a reference to Mr Klaus, the commission president said he hoped the remaining "constitutional requirements" would be completed as quickly as possible.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

03.05.09: Anxious EU awaits Czech verdict on Lisbon Treaty - 0 views

  • European leaders are anxiously awaiting a Czech Senate vote on the Lisbon treaty this week, amid French and Germans warnings that EU enlargement can't continue unless the reforms are ratified.The latest signals out of Prague are fairly upbeat that the Czech upper house of parliament will approve the treaty designed to streamline the working of a union which has expanded from 15 to 27 nations since 2004.
  • European leaders are anxiously awaiting a Czech Senate vote on the Lisbon treaty this week, amid French and Germans warnings that EU enlargement can't continue unless the reforms are ratified.The latest signals out of Prague are fairly upbeat that the Czech upper house of parliament will approve the treaty designed to streamline the working of a union which has expanded from 15 to 27 nations since 2004.
  • European leaders are anxiously awaiting a Czech Senate vote on the Lisbon treaty this week, amid French and Germans warnings that EU enlargement can't continue unless the reforms are ratified.The latest signals out of Prague are fairly upbeat that the Czech upper house of parliament will approve the treaty designed to streamline the working of a union which has expanded from 15 to 27 nations since 2004.
  • ...3 more annotations...
  • European leaders are anxiously awaiting a Czech Senate vote on the Lisbon treaty this week, amid French and Germans warnings that EU enlargement can't continue unless the reforms are ratified.The latest signals out of Prague are fairly upbeat that the Czech upper house of parliament will approve the treaty designed to streamline the working of a union which has expanded from 15 to 27 nations since 2004.
  • European leaders are anxiously awaiting a Czech Senate vote on the Lisbon treaty this week, amid French and Germans warnings that EU enlargement can't continue unless the reforms are ratified.The latest signals out of Prague are fairly upbeat that the Czech upper house of parliament will approve the treaty designed to streamline the working of a union which has expanded from 15 to 27 nations since 2004.
  • Even if there is a "yes" vote in the Senate, Klaus as head of state would have to formally sign and ratify the text.The Czech president has never stated openly whether he would block the passage of the treaty if it is approved by parliament.However comments he made in February are typical of his stated stance."I fear that attempts to speed up and deepen integration and to move decisions about the lives of the citizens of the member countries up the European level can have effects that will endanger all the positive things achieved in Europe in the last half a century," he told the European parliament in Brussels back then.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

17.04.09: Busek: Adaptation of EU-decision-making-system would facilitate enlargement - 0 views

  • As it continues to enlarge, the European Union needs to review its current vote weighting and abandon the veto system, Erhard Busek, special enlargement advisor to the Czech EU Presidency, told EurActiv in an interview.
  • "Personally, I'm convinced that the current voting weight repartition, as well as the lack of qualified majority vote in most of the situations, is the real background of these hesitations. It has nothing to do with region, because it's completely clear for all member states that all the Western Balkan countries should become members of the EU," Busek said.  He also expressed his personal view that in order to avoid infighting between neighbours, Western Balkan countries could more easily join the EU as a bloc. As an example, he referred to the Croatia-Slovenia border dispute (EurActiv 10/03/09), which he said should be solved by negotiations.  "My personal opinion is that […] there could be a bloc of entering countries. Because the real danger is - and we have to learn from the experience of Slovenia and Croatia - is that one country blocks the neighbouring country because of bilateral problems. It's a real nonsense and I think it's better to do it all together," Busek said. 
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

30.03.09: Lisbon treaty ratification in Czechia and Ireland? - 0 views

  • Outgoing Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek has said he will try and persuade his generally eurosceptic party to accept the Lisbon treaty, adding that he believed it would be ratified before the June European elections. "I will plead for the approval of the Lisbon Treaty, and try to cause only the smallest scars and slightest damage to the unity of the [Civic Democrats]," he said, according to Reuters, having being ousted from power by a vote of no confidence last week.
  • Meanwhile, the Irish government has said it will continue negotiations with the Czech EU presidency on securing a legal text on certain issues concerned with the treaty, despite Prague's complicated domestic problem. These legal guarantees - on neutrality, tax and social issues - were agreed by EU leaders following Ireland's rejection of the treaty in a referendum last year. A diplomatic source told the Sunday Business Post that the Irish government expected the guarantees to be agreed ahead of a June EU leaders summit, but admitted: ‘‘We don't know what's going to happen. Nobody does. They don't know themselves."
  • In Brussels there are fears that if the treaty is not approved this year then it risks not coming into place at all. Next year, a general election in the UK could see the Conservatives return to power. Its leader, David Cameron, has said he would hold a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty if it is not already in place.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

26.03.09: Germany's important Lisbon Treaty judgement - 0 views

  • The bulk of the six proceedings challenging the compatibility of Lisbon Treaty and the German Constitution initiated by the conservative MP Peter Gauweiler and a number of left-wing deputies from Die Linke, revolves around the question of whether the Lisbon Treaty erodes the German parliament's powers of participation in EU decision making.
  • National parliaments and the Lisbon Treaty Under the Lisbon Treaty, national parliaments are involved in the EU's policy formulation process by safeguarding the subsidiarity principle. It is essentially a consultation mechanism operating before the onset of the EU decision-making procedure and is applicable only where competences are shared between the EU and the Member States.
  • Three final remarks suffice. First, both chambers of the German parliament have approved the Lisbon Treaty and have therefore made use of what the Federal Constitutional Court has deemed in its Maastricht judgment a key means of ensuring a democratic character of the Union and of Germany's membership in it. Second, much of the academic literature, as well as an empirical inquiry recently conducted at Utrecht University, have shown that the Bundestag, unlike the Bundesrat, is quite passive in using the available tools of influencing Union's policies and laws. Third, the outcome of the pending Lisbon Treaty cases is of prime importance not only for Germany but for the whole of the EU and its relevance transcends the remaining ratification procedures in Ireland, Poland and the Czech Republic. This is not least because the "sale of the state's vital powers" is at stake, as Prof. Klaus Buchner one of the complainants said. It has all the ingredients to become the most influential pronouncement that the German Federal Constitutional Court has ever made regarding the EU.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

25.03.09: Czech government defeat raises major Lisbon concerns - 0 views

  • The presidents of both the European Commission and the European Parliament on Wednesday (25 March) urged the Czech Republic to proceed with the ratification of the EU's Lisbon Treaty despite the fall of the Czech government the day before, while Czech deputy premier Alexandr Vondra admitted the ratification would now become "more difficult."
  • "I would like to urge all political leaders not to use this political crisis in a way to make the Lisbon Treaty hostage to domestic problems. That would not be fair to the other countries of Europe," Mr Barroso said at a press conference in Strasbourg.
  • The Czech Republic, Ireland, Germany and Poland comprise the four countries that have yet to complete the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty.
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  • "From the European Parliament's perspective, it would be a tragedy for Europe if the Lisbon Treaty were to fall in one country, in a country that belonged previously to the Warsaw Pact," he said, referring to the organisation of Communist states in central and eastern Europe that existed from 1955 to 1991. "I cannot imagine that the Czech people, these 10 million people ... are going at the end of the day to stand against the 490 other million citizens of the European Union ... We have a historic responsibility to see this through," he added.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

19.03.09: 'No US radar, no Lisbon Treaty', Prague warns - 0 views

  • Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek yesterday (18 March) confirmed reports revealed by EurActiv in January: President Barack Obama's decision to put on hold US plans to construct its missile shield and radar base in the Czech Republic effectively blocks his country's ratification of the Lisbon Treaty.
  • Topolánek, who chairs the ODS, told the Czech press that he is putting the Lisbon Treaty on ice, together with the US agreement. But he blamed the Social Democratic opposition for the stalemate. He also indicated that he hopes to convince the US president at the NATO summit on 4 April in Strasbourg to change his mind and proceed with the missile shield plan.  Obama will be travelling to Prague for an EU-US summit on 5 April: his first official visit to Europe.  Asked to clarify whether the deadlock could spell the end of the Lisbon Treaty, Topolánek said in an interview with Czech news: "I think that is possible. But I would stress it is not entirely our responsibility. I will not instruct anyone how to vote [...] I have said that many times before.
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