29th Nov 2021

Barroso warns member states against unravelling treaty deal

  • Lisbon has said it would like a fully formed treaty agreement in October (Photo: Portuguee EU presidency)

The European Commission and the newly minted Portuguese EU presidency has dismissed Poland's attempts to reopen a key part of a new agreement on a future union treaty as a "misunderstanding" and warned member states generally that unanimous deals cannot be re-opened just days after being agreed.

"None of the issues which we agreed upon are going to be opened," said commission president Jose Manuel Barroso on Monday at a press conference in Porto to introduce Portugal's six month tenure of the EU.

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Referring to the EU leaders summit ten days ago where member states agreed a mandate for negotiating a new treaty for the bloc, he said it "can't be" that member states "start putting into question what they all unanimously agreed upon."

Portuguese prime minister Jose Socrates was equally clear. He noted that the mandate does not say "oh by the way you can revise the mandate."

"We hailed that agreement" he said, adding that he did not see any countries that want to question it.

Poland dismissed

Meanwhile, both politicians used similar phrasing to dismiss Polish attempts to put the highly contentious voting issue back on the table.

"There have been a few ambiguous statements put forward," but these were a "misunderstanding," said Mr Barroso while Mr Socrates noted "it can't be anything but a little misunderstanding here."

Mr Socrates implied that Poland had already got so much from the summit – it secured an extension of the current voting system until at least 2014, with the option to further use it until 2017 – that it had no reason to be making waves now.

"We think Poland will be one of the most co-operative because they were so fundamental to the agreement," he said

Putting the cat firmly among the pigeons, Warsaw last week indicated it would like a "gentleman's agreement" made in the late hours of the ill-tempered 21-22 June summit to be honoured. It said it was told the mandate would contain a mechanism to delay EU decisions for up to two years if the blocking minority formally required was not quite reached.

But opening this issue would probably result in Portugal's overall timetable for agreement unravelling. Lisbon has said it would like a fully formed treaty agreement in October.

If Warsaw is seen as allowed to revisit the negotiating document - already a patchwork of opt-outs, footnotes and protocols - it could have a knock-on effect.

Portuguese diplomats already fear that the longer member states have to think about the mandate, the more "creative" member states will be in their interpretations of it.

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