Saturday

19th Oct 2019

Fiscal treaty stirs political disputes in EU countries

  • Francois Hollande has pledged to re-negotiate the treaty if he wins (Photo: Francois Hollande)

The Czech Republic's decision to not sign up to a new fiscal discipline treaty given the nod by EU leaders on Monday (30 January) has caused parties in the ruling coalition to lock horns - but the intergovernmental pact is proving controversial elsewhere too.

"This really harms the Czech Republic," foreign minister Karel Schwarzenberg said on Tuesday. "That much is clear to everyone, while our stance is absolutely unclear to everyone," the leader of the Top09 party, a junior partner in the centre-right coalition led by Prime Minister Petr Necas, added.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

Necas' own party, the right-wing Civic Democrats, are aligned with the country's eurosceptic president Vaclav Klaus, who has said he will not sign the pact.

The eurosceptic president already delayed the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty by withholding his signature back in 2009.

Prague's internal divisions were well known to those around the EU negotiating table. "If Schwarzenberg becomes president, maybe things will change," one EU politician quipped.

At a press conference after the summit, Necas himself did not rule out that his country may join the treaty at a later stage - an allusion to the fact that Klaus will step down after March 2013 elections.

But once back in Prague on Tuesday, Necas defended his stance and said Schwarzenberg's statement is "extremely ill thought-out." He noted that the pact is a big step towards a fiscal union - something Czechs did not vote for when they voted on EU membership in 2003.

One of the three reasons Necas gave for his opposition to the treaty was the "complicated ratification procedure."

Referendum calls

Meanwhile, the new treaty has met with calls for referendums in Ireland and Denmark.

Fianna Fail, the former ruling party in Ireland, on Tuesday joined other opposition groups in calling for a plebiscite.

The government itself has asked Ireland's attorney general for a legal opinion, even though the language of the treaty has been crafted so as to avoid referendums.

The opposition has pledged to take the matter to court if the attorney general says a referendum is not required.

Eurosceptic parties on the left and right of the political spectrum in Denmark, a non-euro country which signed up to the pact, have also called for popular votes.

The majority of parliament is in favour of the pact however, while a Gallup poll showed on Tuesday that 56 percent of Danes favour the treaty, with just 27 percent against.

French challenge

In France, the frontrunner for the April presidential elections, Socialist candidate Francois Hollande, is also making waves with his pledge to re-negotiate the treaty if he wins.

Hollande wants an increased role for the European Central Bank, the creation of eurobonds and a European financial transaction tax.

His position has prompted a debate in French political circles about whether the treaty can be re-opened after the current French President Nicolas Sarkozy signs it in March, as expected.

The intergovernmental pact came about after Britain vetoed a change to the EU Treaty proper.

The treaty is widely seen as part of a grand political strategy to enable Berlin to push through measures to raise its contrbution to EU bail-out funds.

According to the Financial Times Deutschland, the plan is to increase the firepower of the bail-out funds from the current €1 trillion to €1.5 trillion.

EU leaders will come back to the money issue on 1 when they meet in Brussels for another summit - the 15th since the crisis began.

Czechs abandon EU fiscal pact, for now

The new EU treaty on fiscal discipline will be signed by 25 instead of 26 member states after the Czech Republic joined the UK in staying out.

Twenty five EU leaders sign German-model fiscal treaty

Germany's vision of an EU of fiscally prudent states held in check by tight budgetary laws and the threat of legal action came a step closer on Friday when 25 leaders signed a new fiscal treaty.

News in Brief

  1. Macron: Nato's inability to react to Turkey a 'mistake'
  2. EU: US can expect counter measures after tariff move
  3. Almost 7,500 people forcibly returned to Libya in 2019
  4. Puigdemont released after responding to arrest warrant
  5. Commission: Facebook's Libra needs international approach
  6. Italian PM: denial of accession talks a 'historic mistake'
  7. Catalan president blames clashes on 'infiltrators'
  8. US imposes €6.7bn new tariffs on European products

Opinion

Why von der Leyen must put rights at core of business

Ursula von der Leyen's in-tray must include those European executives on trial for systematic workplace harassment, the break-up of European slavery rings, and allegations of European companies' abuse in palm oil, including child labour, land grabs, and deforestation.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersBrussels welcomes Nordic culture
  2. UNESDAUNESDA appoints Nicholas Hodac as Director General
  3. UNESDASoft drinks industry co-signs Circular Plastics Alliance Declaration
  4. FEANIEngineers Europe Advisory Group: Building the engineers of the future
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  6. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  10. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  12. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  2. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  3. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  4. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  8. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  9. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  12. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us