Tuesday

5th Mar 2024

Ireland ups the pressure on Constitution talks

Following a commitment by EU leaders to finish the Constitution by 18 June, the Irish EU Presidency has started to apply some public pressure.

Irish prime minister Bertie Ahern has written to member states asking them to take a "positive and focussed approach, concentrating on those questions which are of real significance".

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Get the EU news that really matters

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

... or subscribe as a group

  • Dublin - The Irish Presidency will have to steer a tight course on the negotiations (Photo: Irish Presidency)

Mr Ahern has also arranged that the formal intergovernmental talks on the Constitution at ministerial level once again be resumed - until now discussions have been conducted at bilateral level to test the ground after the collapse of the Constitution summit in December.

A meeting of EU foreign ministers later this month, 26 April, will discuss how the timetable should be set out.

The Irish prime minister's letter says that the Presidency is "taking a positive and focussed approach, concentrating on those questions which are of real significance to you and aiming to reach constructive compromises. I assume and expect that no concerns not already signalled will be raised".

The timetable will be crucial.

Dublin will have to ensure that the talks between foreign ministers are constructive enough to ensure that as many issues as possible are cleared from the table before EU leaders gather for their crucial summit on 17-18 June.

This is acknowledged by Mr Ahern who has said to his EU counterparts that "only a small number of highly sensitive points" should remain open for their June meeting.

EU leaders are keen to avoid a repeat of the summit on the Nice Treaty in 2000 which saw bitter negotiations stretch on for days.

Simmering points

The sticking points continue to be the proposed new voting system, the number of Commissioners and the number of MEPs in the European Parliament.

A number of other issues continue to simmer as well, particularly as the talks enter their final stretch once again.

The Financial Times reports that the UK wants national parliaments to have the power to veto new EU legislation that they believe encroaches on national sovereignty.

Other issues such as whether Christianity should be mentioned in the text also have to be solved.

On top of this, talks have been delayed by the fact that the new Spanish government will only be sworn in this week; and the fact that the Polish prime minister will step down on 2 May.

Both of these countries have been hard negotiators on the Treaty blueprint resisting pressure until the last minute to give in to the new voting system.

Feature

Hungary's Ukrainian refugees in two minds as relations sour

Ukrainians struggle to match the kindness of individual Hungarians with the nationalist government's pro-Russia rhetoric. "Ukraine's primary enemies are Russians and Putin, obviously. But the number two is Viktor Orbán," Viktoria Petrovszka, a Ukrainian woman living in Hungary, says.

Analysis

Almost 20 names in running for EU top jobs

With four months until the European Parliament elections, there are already some 20 names in the hat for the ensuing reshuffle of EU top jobs.

Opinion

The six-hour U-turn that saw the EU vote for austerity

The EU's own analysis has made it clear this is economic self-sabotage, and it's politically foolish three months from European elections where the far-right are predicted to increase support, writes the general secretary of the European Trade Union Confederation.

'Outdated' rules bar MEP from entering plenary with child

During a plenary session in Strasbourg, an MEP was denied access to the chamber because he was carrying his young child, due to unforeseen circumstances. The episode shows parliament's rules need to be updated, several MEPs told EUobserver.

Latest News

  1. EU must overhaul Africa trade offer to parry China, warns MEP
  2. EU watchdog faults European Commission over Libya
  3. Hungary's Ukrainian refugees in two minds as relations sour
  4. The six-hour U-turn that saw the EU vote for austerity
  5. Defence, von der Leyen, women's rights, in focus This WEEK
  6. The farming lobby vs Europe's wolves
  7. EU socialists fight battle on two fronts in election campaign
  8. EU docks €32m in funding to UN Gaza agency pending audit

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersJoin the Nordic Food Systems Takeover at COP28
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersHow women and men are affected differently by climate policy
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersArtist Jessie Kleemann at Nordic pavilion during UN climate summit COP28
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP28: Gathering Nordic and global experts to put food and health on the agenda
  5. Friedrich Naumann FoundationPoems of Liberty – Call for Submission “Human Rights in Inhume War”: 250€ honorary fee for selected poems
  6. World BankWorld Bank report: How to create a future where the rewards of technology benefit all levels of society?

Join EUobserver

EU news that matters

Join us