Wednesday

30th Nov 2022

Constitution talks take place in difficult political atmosphere

  • Time is running out (Photo: EUobserver)

Today foreign ministers will gather in Naples for what is supposed to be the second last major meeting of governmental talks on the making of an historic EU Constitution.

However, the meeting, which was set to be rather low key, is now taking place in a politically charged atmosphere following the stability pact crisis earlier this week.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

Recriminations have been flying back and forth after Germany and France escaped sanctions for breaching the euro rules.

The divisions caused by the euro decision reflect one of the main fault lines in the Constitution debate – big against small countries – and may result in governments continuing to speak from very national-oriented platforms.

It is also likely to strengthen the case of Poland and Spain who are fighting hard not to have their voting weights reduced in a future Europe as well as smaller countries fighting for ‘their own’ Commissioner.

Again, France and Germany are on the other side of the fence in demanding that the draft be kept as close to the original as possible.

Revival?

In a bid to revive the talks which have been lagging for several weeks, the Italian Presidency presented a compromise deal which will be examined closely by ministers in Naples today and tomorrow.

But although it has cleared the air in some places by suggesting making treaty revision more flexible, narrowing the role of the public prosecutor and giving reassurances on the importance of NATO, it has added to the difficult atmosphere in other places.

The UK has already indicated that it will reject the Constitution if plans to take away the veto in common foreign and security policy are maintained - as has been proposed.

Similarly, the European Central Bank has also entered the fray by demanding that the Italian proposal which suggests that the make up of the bank's governing board be changed by unanimous decision rather than treaty revision, be changed.

It fears the change will lead to more politicised interventions in the euro zone.

Political background

In the background of today's meeting will be several important issues: that the European Commission has suffered two big defeats this week - on the euro rules and on the takeover directive - and that new member states have been exposed to the fact that when large member states want something, then they get it.

Moreover, what is to be tackled today is just the tip of the Constitutional iceberg.

The Naples meeting will determine whether the much needed political momentum is gathered for the planned last meeting on the Constitution in Brussels in two weeks.

At this meeting EU leaders have to work out a deal on the real issue that they have all been skirting around for the last months – the balance of power in a future European Union.

Swedish EU presidency: 'Ukraine, Ukraine, Ukraine'

Ukraine and a looming economic recession is set to dominate the upcoming Swedish EU presidency, which takes over at the start of next year. Sweden's ambassador to the EU, Lars Danielsson, laid out some of its priorities.

French official accused of conflict over EU fish lobby job

A senior French official is being accused of conflicts of interest for spearheading a leading role in Europeche, a fishing-industry lobby group based in Brussels. The hire comes as the EU Commission threatens a lawsuit against France over fishing.

Investigation

EU lawmakers under pressure to act on 90,000 asbestos deaths

The EU Commission has watered-down a broad political initiative —but now governments of member states hold the key to what the EU should do. Some member states and regions have adopted asbestos strategies of some kind, from Poland to Flanders.

Swedish EU presidency: 'Ukraine, Ukraine, Ukraine'

Ukraine and a looming economic recession is set to dominate the upcoming Swedish EU presidency, which takes over at the start of next year. Sweden's ambassador to the EU, Lars Danielsson, laid out some of its priorities.

News in Brief

  1. 'Pro-Kremlin group' in EU Parliament cyberattack
  2. Ukraine will decide on any peace talks, Borrell says
  3. Germany blocks sale of chip factory to Chinese subsidiary
  4. Strikes and protests over cost-of-living grip Greece, Belgium
  5. Liberal MEPs want Musk quizzed in parliament
  6. Bulgarian policeman shot dead at Turkish border
  7. 89 people allowed to disembark in Italy, aid group says
  8. UN chief tells world: Cooperate on climate or perish

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP27: Food systems transformation for climate action
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region and the African Union urge the COP27 to talk about gender equality
  3. International Sustainable Finance CentreJoin CEE Sustainable Finance Summit, 15 – 19 May 2023, high-level event for finance & business
  4. Friedrich Naumann Foundation European DialogueGender x Geopolitics: Shaping an Inclusive Foreign Security Policy for Europe
  5. Obama FoundationThe Obama Foundation Opens Applications for its Leaders Program in Europe
  6. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBA lot more needs to be done to better protect construction workers from asbestos

Latest News

  1. Nato renews membership vow to Ukraine
  2. Catalan spyware victims demand justice
  3. Is the overwhelming critique of Qatar hypocritical?
  4. EU carbon-removal scheme dubbed 'smokescreen for inaction'
  5. EU lawmakers under pressure to act on 90,000 asbestos deaths
  6. Post-COP27 optimism — non-Western voices are growing
  7. Legal scholars: Prosecuting Putin 'legally problematic'
  8. A missed opportunity in Kazakhstan

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us