5th Jun 2023

Portugal hopes for October EU treaty finale

The incoming Portuguese presidency has set aside just three months for negotiation on a new EU treaty, believing the weekend's tempestuous summit resulted in sufficiently clear directions to wrap up a new text.

According to Portuguese ambassador Alvaro Mendonca, formal negotiations will be opened on 23 July with the aim to have them signed off by EU leaders on 18-19 October.

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

  • Portugal takes over at the EU helm on 1 July (Photo:

"We believe we have a mandate that is clear, precise and agreed by all 27 member states," said Mr Mendonca at the Centre for European Policy Studies think tank on Monday (25 June), referring to last week's top-level meeting.

He added that the first month and a half will be spent translating the document agreed by leaders – which lists all the areas where the original rejected constitution needs to be changed – into legal text.

After that the first political phase will come when EU foreign ministers discuss the document at an informal meeting in early September in Portugal.

The ambassador said that time will tell "to what extent" member states will respect the mandate they gave themselves, with several governments over the coming weeks likely to face flak – particularly in the UK and the Netherlands – for agreeing a document that is substantially very similar to the original constitution.

But he added that Portugal "consider[s] that the main political points have been agreed."

"In theory, it should be plain-sailing," he said, before wryly noting that the weather forecast for the weekend turned out to be completely wrong.

Two speed Europe?

For their part, MEPs are now working on their formal response to EU leaders – both the European Parliament and the European Commission have to give the green light for the intergovernmental negotiations to go ahead.

German socialist MEP and constitutional affairs committee chief Jo Leinen gave a cautious welcome to the outline, but criticised how the final treaty will look and how the bitter summit negotiations resulting in specific concessions here and there for individual member states appeared to signal the end of the "European spirit."

"The treaty is going to have far more footnotes, explanations and exemptions," he said.

He also noted that the results, which include opt-outs on judicial and police affairs as well as on the Charter of Fundamental Rights for the UK, will introduce a de facto "two-speed" Europe – an idea that MEPs "will have to get used to."

His comment echoed those of Italian prime minister Romano Prodi, who strongly criticised the way Poland, the Czech Republic and the UK negotiated during the summit and saying a two-speed Europe will be "inevitable."

The draft response by MEPs to the summit was discussed on Monday afternoon and is expected to be voted on next month.

At the moment, the five-page document "welcomes the fact that the mandate safeguards the substance of the Constitutional Treaty" including giving the EU a single legal personality and extension of the areas where MEPs' may co-legislate. It also welcomes the new mentions of climate change, energy solidarity and the strengthening of the role of services of general economic interest.

On the minus side, the report suggests that the "increasing number of derogations" in the mandate could "lead to a weakening of the cohesion of the Union" and regrets the loss of EU symbols – flag, anthem and motto – as well as simpler more citizen-friendly terms for EU legislative acts.

MEPs to urge block on Hungary taking EU presidency in 2024

"This will be the first time a member state that is under the Article 7 procedure will take over the rotating presidency of the council," French Green MEP Gwendoline Delbos-Corfield, the key lawmaker on Hungary, warned.

European Parliament scales back luxury MEP pension fund

The European Parliament's Bureau, a political body composed of the president and its vice-presidents, decided to slash payouts from the fund by 50 percent, freeze automatic indexations, and increase the pension age from 65 to 67.

WhoisWho? Calls mount to bring back EU directory

NGOs and lobbyists slammed the EU commission for removing contact details of non-managerial staff from its public register, arguing that the institution is now less transparent.


MEP luxury pension held corporate assets in tax havens

While the European Parliament was demanding a clamp down on tax havens, many of its own MEPs were using their monthly office allowances to finance a luxury pension scheme that held corporate assets in the Cayman Islands, Bermuda and elsewhere.


What a Spanish novelist can teach us about communality

In a world where cultural clashes and sectarianism seems to be on the increase, Spanish novelist Javier Cercas (b.1962) takes the opposite approach. He cherishes both life in the big city and in the countryside.


Poland and Hungary's ugly divorce over Ukraine

What started in 2015 as a 'friends-with-benefits' relationship between Viktor Orbán and Jarosław Kaczyński, for Hungary and Poland, is ending in disgust and enmity — which will not be overcome until both leaders leave.

Latest News

  1. Subcontracting rules allow firms to bypass EU labour rights
  2. Asylum and SLAPP positions in focus This WEEK
  3. Spanish PM to delay EU presidency speech due to snap election
  4. EU data protection chief launches Frontex investigation
  5. Madrid steps up bid to host EU anti-money laundering hub
  6. How EU leaders should deal with Chinese government repression
  7. MEPs pile on pressure for EU to delay Hungary's presidency
  8. IEA: World 'comfortably' on track for renewables target

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Sustainable Finance CentreJoin CEE Sustainable Finance Summit, 15 – 19 May 2023, high-level event for finance & business
  2. ICLEISeven actionable measures to make food procurement in Europe more sustainable
  3. World BankWorld Bank Report Highlights Role of Human Development for a Successful Green Transition in Europe
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic summit to step up the fight against food loss and waste
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersThink-tank: Strengthen co-operation around tech giants’ influence in the Nordics
  6. EFBWWEFBWW calls for the EC to stop exploitation in subcontracting chains

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. InformaConnecting Expert Industry-Leaders, Top Suppliers, and Inquiring Buyers all in one space - visit Battery Show Europe.
  2. EFBWWEFBWW and FIEC do not agree to any exemptions to mandatory prior notifications in construction
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Baltic ways to prevent gender-based violence
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCSW67: Economic gender equality now! Nordic ways to close the pension gap
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersCSW67: Pushing back the push-back - Nordic solutions to online gender-based violence
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersCSW67: The Nordics are ready to push for gender equality

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us