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Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

29.10.10: 'Small, small, small' EU treaty change to deliver 'quantum leap' - 0 views

  • European leaders have given way to German demands for a change to the European treaties, but the procedure for the change and its size has been calculated explicitly to avoid the danger that it could provoke referendums in some EU states.
  • Viritually all EU member states had vehemently opposed any treaty change going into the summit, but in the end they were convinced by Germany's need for the change in order to avoid a legal clash with its Karlsruhe-based Constitutional Court. The leaders agreed to construct a permanent crisis mechanism to fill the void left when the existing but temporary €110 billion bail-out package for Greece and €440 billion fund set up for the eurozone as a whole expire in 2013. According to diplomats, it is currently unclear whether this new mechanism would involve participation of eurozone members alone or the full 27 EU member states, including those who do not use the euro. Germany is worried that any permanent structure could run afoul of treaty rules forbidding EU bail-outs of member states and be struck down by the country's strict Constitutional Court, thus opening the euro once again to an assault by markets as occurred in the spring. Caught between the need for a structural change and their fear of both the activism of Karlsruhe and the growing euroscepticism of citizens, the other leaders signed off on the move only so long as the change envisaged was "small, small, small - the smallest possible ... in order to ensure there is no possibility of referendums," in the words of a Danish diplomat speaking to EUobserver. The method EU leaders chose to achieve the change will be via what is called the "special revision procedure," introduced by the Lisbon Treaty, under which the treaty can be amended by the European Council alone, so long as there is unanimity and the changes do not extend the competences of the European Union.
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

Parliament warns EU summit against backroom deals - 0 views

  • Ahead of an EU summit opening today (28 October), Liberal group leader Guy Verhofstadt warned that the European Parliament was determined to use its new powers under the Lisbon Treaty and would not let economic governance plans be "diluted" by Germany and France.
  • But Verhofstadt, who leads the Parliament's Liberal group, warned that such backroom deals were now over. The European Parliament, he said, would have full co-decision powers on legislative proposals that will come out later in the year to flesh out the EU's new economic governance. His warnings were echoed by other political groups in Parliament, including the centre-right European People's Party (EPP), which commands the largest number of seats in the Strasbourg assembly. Iñigo Mendez De Vigo, a Spanish MEP in charge of institutional issues at the EPP, said he welcomed the Task Force's proposals. But he added that "they should take into account that the European Parliament is now co-legislator and will play its full part in defining the reforms to come".  "I regret that the French-German proposal does not even mention the European Commission, which also has a say on this issue," De Vigo said, adding the Parliament should also be more involved. The Greens, the fourth largest group in Parliament, also backed the Liberals and the EPP, in a move which could herald a long battle with member states over the economic reform plans. The Parliament "will be a co-legislator on four of the six legislative proposals" on economic governance, said Belgian MEP Philippe Lamberts, saying his group was "in favour of a more ambitious and broader economic framework than the Commission and Council". Verhofstadt said he hoped this new battle would not take nine months, referring to the time it took to pass a recent package of financial supervision laws through the assembly.
  • In a statement, Verhofstadt detailed the three key areas where the Task Force had diluted the Commission's initial proposal and on which he said Parliament was ready to pick a fight. First, the Commission had proposed to impose sanctions on member countries with excessive deficits or severe imbalances at an earlier stage, without delay. By contrast, the Task Force argues that a political decision should be taken on the proposed sanctions, meaning that they could be blocked by a country capable of putting together a blocking minority. The result is that there will be no preventive procedure and therefore no sanctions, the liberal group leader warned. Second, the Task Force foresees a "double filter" for decision-making, involving a political recommendation by the Council before the Commission can take action. In practice, this means the Commission will be allowed to take sanctions only after a certain period, Verhofstadt said. Finally, while the EU executive had proposed that corrective action or sanctions be initiated directly by its own services, the Task Force called instead for a recommendation that would need subsequent backing by the bloc's 27 finance ministers. "It's easy to change a recommendation, and far more difficult to change a proposal by the Commission, because in that case you need unanimity," Verhofstadt explained.
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

12.12.08: Second Irish referendum linked to Croatian EU accession - 0 views

  • Legal guarantees promised to Ireland and paving the way for a second referendum on the Lisbon Treaty in the country are to be written into a protocol together with Croatia's accession treaty to the EU in 2010 or 2011, current EU President Nicolas Sarkozy said on Friday (12 December).
  • EU leaders in Brussels this week (11-12 December) agreed to a series of concessions to allow Dublin to make possible a second vote on the bloc's Lisbon Treaty some time in the course of next year.
  • In order to make these promises legally binding, they will be written into a protocol in Croatia's accession treaty - that has to be ratified by all EU countries to enter into force. "To give a legal value to the engagements made to Ireland by the 26 other member states, we have committed that at the time of the next EU enlargement – whether that will be in 2010 or in 2011, when probably Croatia will join us ... we will use that to add a protocol [on Ireland] to Croatia's accession treaty," Mr Sarkozy told journalists after the EU summit.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

12.12.08: Ireland has a diplomatic victory but the real winner is Europe - 0 views

  • But the deal struck, which allows the ratification process to resume in Ireland, with a view to ratification by the end of 2009, maintains the package of institutional reforms that will allow the EU to be better able to deal with these long-term political problems. So, what was agreed and what does it all mean?
  • All governments had agreed that the size of the European Commission should be cut down, as successive enlargements of the European Union turned the Commission from a compact executive into a miniature assembly, and several governments were reported as being reluctant to give up on this reform. This is a major coup for the Irish.
  • In return, the Irish government has committed itself to ratifying the treaty by the end of the term of the current Commission, paving the way for a second referendum on the treaty by October 2009. As far as the composition of the Parliament is concerned, next year's European elections will (if the treaty has not been ratified) elect 736 members. Following ratification, the twelve EU countries due to gain extra seats in the Parliament will obtain them at that point, while Germany will temporarily keep the three extra seats that it would have lost in the event of Lisbon being ratified before the elections. In the absence of a ratified treaty, the six month rotating presidency of the European Council will continue. The Czech presidency will take place, while the following presidency in the second half of 2009 will be responsible for making the arrangements of the new permanent presidency and the proposed External Action Service and Foreign Affairs Council.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

12.12.08: EU leaders close to deal on economi recovery plan - 0 views

  • After a debate clouded by pessimism over where Europe's economy is heading and which other bitter surprises the global financial turmoil might still place in European laps, EU leaders meeting in Brussels have broadly agreed on the proposed economy stimulus package for the 27-strong bloc.
  • But both Belgian Prime Minister Yves Leterme and his Italian counterpart, Silvio Berlusconi, confirmed that there was broad agreement around the negotiating table about both the proposed level of pump-priming - 1.5 percent of the EU's GDP - and most of the other proposals from the EU executive on how to invest extra monies.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

12.12.08: EU summit gives in to Irish demands on Lisbon Treaty - 0 views

  • On the first day of the European Council (11 December), EU leaders agreed on a package of Irish demands which pave the way for a second referendum on the Lisbon Treaty in Ireland, which will most probably be held in October 2009.
  • Under the compromise text, seen by EurActiv, all EU countries are expected to keep their commissioner. Ireland will receive legal guarantees on taxation policy, social and ethical issues and the Common Security and Defence Policy (CFSP), with regard to Ireland's traditional policy of neutrality among other provisions. 
  • Transitional accommodations  Therefore, transitional measures have been adopted with respect to the Presidency of the European Council, as well as of the European Parliament. The member state holding the EU presidency when the Lisbon Treaty enters into force (Sweden holds the presidency until the end of 2009) will continue to chair all meetings in the same manner as today's presidencies.  But the next EU presidency holder (Spain from January 2010) will make changes in conformity with the Lisbon Treaty, making room for a permanent President of the European Council and a High Representative for foreign affairs and security policy.  Also, European Parliament will be enlarged from 736 to 754 members in the course of 2010, if indeed the Irish say 'yes' to the reform treaty. The elections will take place under the Treaty of Nice, but soon the Parliament is expected to accommodate the provisions of Lisbon.  Answering questions from the press, Poettering acknowledged that the situation was not ideal, and the legitimacy of MEPs falling between the Nice and Lisbon Treaties should be preserved, as their status should not be different. He admitted that legal experts would struggle with the issue. 
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

11.12.08: EU leaders gatehr for rift-packed summit - 0 views

  • Almost two years after adopting ambitious green goals, a year after signing the new Lisbon Treaty and some sixteen months after the first signs of the financial crisis, EU leaders are meeting in Brussels on Thursday (11 December) to write a new chapter in the three long-running dossiers.
  • But it will be his Irish colleague, Prime Minister Brian Cowen to open the show by presenting Dublin's analysis on why the Irish voters rejected the EU's reform treaty in the June referendum and what can be done to rescue its ratification.
  • Moreover, Dublin could see a pledge to retain the country's commissioner if all other EU leaders follow the French line – all in a bid to enable the Irish government to hold the second referendum by 31 October, according to the draft document. It would mean that one of the key elements of the EU's institutional reform would be changed despite previous pressure on member states not to touch the package when the bloc was turning the former European Constitution into the Lisbon Treaty, following the negative referendums in France and the Netherlands.
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  • Another hot issue at the summit will be Europe's grand strategy for economic recovery. Brussels has suggested that the Union invest 1.5 percent of its GDP to boost economic activity amid projections of a severe recession in 2009.
  • But if anything is to cause the leaders to be up all night, it will be the complicated arguments over the climate change package. Although the member states had agreed on most elements of the legislation before this week's top-level meeting, there are still a couple of areas where they had not been able to strike a compromise since the European Commission put forward the bill in January.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

20.06.08: EU to push back Lisbon treaty solution - 0 views

  • The EU is unlikely to agree concrete solutions to the institutional impasse created by the Irish rejection of the Lisbon Treaty before the end of the year, the bloc's initial discussion on the issue has shown.
  • French President Nicolas Sarkozy noted that while there may be no set calendar, as "pressure should not be put on a country, everyone knows that there is a deadline and that is the next European elections."
  • On Friday, EU leaders are to agree a political statement on the situation expected to say that they respect the outcome of the Irish vote and that time be given to Dublin to find a solution. Whether it will suggest in black and white that ratification should continue is still unclear, due to Czech resistance.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

19.06.08: Irish No to be discussed by EU summit - 0 views

  • The EU's 27 leaders are gathering in Brussels to chew and swallow two hot potatoes - how to respond to Irish voters' rejection of the Lisbon Treaty, a set of EU internal reforms, and to the record high oil and food prices. Precisely one week ago, Ireland put on ice the EU's latest attempt to undergo wide-reaching institutional changes aimed at simplifying the way the 27-nation bloc is run and allowing it to absorb more new member states.
  • So far, EU heavyweights - France and Germany - have insisted that the ratification marathon continues. On Wednesday (18 June), the legal document was ratified by the UK parliament, bringing the overall number of countries to 19. But one diplomat has suggested EU leaders are likely to tiptoe around the eurosceptic government of the Czech Republic, seen as the most unpredictable player when it comes to the ratification process.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

19.06.08: EU summit unlikely to more intensively deal with Balkans enlargement - 0 views

  • EU leaders meeting in Brussels on Thursday (19 June) will spend little time discussing enlargement of the bloc, and are not expected to do more than reaffirm western Balkan countries' "European perspective" – despite greater expectations from some of the EU hopefuls. One such country – Macedonia, an EU candidate since 2005 – has lately been indicating its readiness to start accession negotiations as soon as possible.
  • Macedonia had had high expectations on starting accession negotiations during Ljubljana's time at the EU helm, as Slovenia – which was part of the former Yugoslavia together with Macedonia – has made the Western Balkans' EU integration a priority of its presidency. Moreover, not winning the announcement of a date now means that Skopje may not start negotiations this year at all, as the next EU presidency country, France, has explicitly taken Greece's side in the name row, and is not expected to put a particular emphasis on enlargement issues.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

14.12.07: EU-Staatschefs unterzeichnen neuen EU-Vertrag - 0 views

  • Die EU-Staats- und Regierungschefs haben offiziell einen neuen Vertrag unterzeichnet: Er soll die Entscheidungsprozesse in der EU vereinfachen und ihre Kompetenzen auf neue Bereiche, wie Energie und Zusammenarbeit der Justizbehörden, ausweiten. Die verspätete Ankunft des britischen Premierministers Gordon Brown warf jedoch einen Schatten auf die Unterzeichnungszeremonie. Zum gleichen Thema: LinksDossier:   Der ‚Vertrag von Lissabon’ [DE] News:   EU nach Vertrag: auf ‚Anpassung an Globalisierung’ konzentrieren [DE] Analysis:   Die Umsetzung des Vertrags von Lissabon
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

19.10.07: EU agrees new 'Lisbon Treaty' - 0 views

  • The European Union has overnight agreed the precise text of its new 'Lisbon Treaty' to be formally signed off on 13 December in the Portuguese capital. At around 02:00 local time on Friday morning - following shorter-than-usual discussions - Portuguese prime minister Jose Socrates announced that a deal has been struck, describing it as "victory for Europe".
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

18.10.07: EU Summit Lisbon agreeing the "Reform Treating" - 0 views

  • EU leaders are gathering in Lisbon on Thursday (18 October) in an effort to put a full stop behind the 2005 political debacle, which saw French and Dutch voters rejecting the draft European Constitution. If all goes as planned, the 27-nation bloc will by the end of tomorrow have politically agreed a new 'Reform Treaty', but much will depend on how far Italy and Poland are prepared to go to defend their particular demands.
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