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13th Dec 2019

Merkel wants EU treaty convention by end of year

  • Angela Merkel's ideas on a political union are not popular among EU leaders (Photo: World Economic Forum)

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is pressing for a new EU treaty convention by December, despite opposition from many countries, Der Spiegel reports in its latest print edition on Monday (27 August).

Merkel's push for a new EU treaty is in line with her demand for a true political union in return for debt being pooled in the eurozone and Germany's own constitution being changed to allow for more power transfers to Brussels.

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But many countries have little appetite for a new treaty. Recent experience has proved the difficulty of getting new texts passed in all 27 member states. A planned European Constitution was rejected in 2005 by French and Dutch voters. Its successor, the Lisbon Treaty, was also initially rejected in an Irish referendum.

For a new treaty to be drafted, a so-called convention comprising representatives from national governments and parliaments, the European Parliament and the European Commission has to agree on a final text.

According to Der Spiegel, Merkel's EU affairs advisor Nikolaus Meyer-Landrut has "made it clear" during talks in Brussels that the German government wants the convention to be formed by the end of the year, with a first meeting to be agreed at an EU summit in December. Meyer-Landrut was spokesperson for the 2002-2003 convention, which drew up the European Constitution.

Having the EU's top court - the Luxembourg-based European Court of Justice (ECJ) - ruling on budgets that are not in line with EU's fiscal rules would be part of Germany's vision for the new treaty.

Merkel had pushed for it during talks on a treaty on fiscal discipline signed by 25 EU states (Britain and the Czech Republic did not want to be part of it). In the end she was forced to accept a compromise under which the ECJ can only verify if the 'golden rule' of balanced budgets is properly transposed in national law. It cannot decide on actual budgets.

"I would have liked more, I would have liked the ECJ to check the budgets, but other colleagues did not want this. However, they do want eurobonds and a mutualisation of debt, but they do not want to give up more sovereignty," she said in June.

How far she will be able to go this time remains to be seen. A 'roadmap' on several avenues for the eurozone - a political, fiscal and banking union - is being drawn up by EU Council chief Herman Van Rompuy and his counterparts at the EU commission, European Central Bank and Eurogroup of finance ministers. An interim proposal is due in October.

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