Thursday

21st Feb 2019

EU unveils bulky new treaty draft

  • Portuguese foreign minister Luis Amado says Lisbon is aiming to finalise the IGC talks "as soon as possible". (Photo: The Portuguese EU presidency)

The EU kicked off its procedural journey towards a new Treaty on Monday with 277 pages of draft Treaty text on the table, and Poland showing a fresh willingness to compromise on the sensitive issue of voting weights.

At the EU foreign ministers meeting in Brussels, the Portuguese Presidency presented a full draft version of the new Treaty which is intended to replace the failed EU Constitution, rejected by French and Dutch voters in 2005.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

The document has the cumbersome working title "Draft Treaty Amending The Treaty On European Union And The Treaty Establishing The European Community" - but it will most likely be called "Reform Treaty," a term used by EU leaders in June.

The core of the text unveiled on Monday, has 145 pages, accompanied by almost as many pages (132) of protocols and declarations. There are total 12 protocols and 51 declarations.

The rejected Constitution had 475 pages of text, but this document was intended to replace all EU Treaties from the past. The newly-proposed Reform Treaty merely amends the existing Maastricht and Rome Treaties, which will legally continue to exist under different names.

The Portuguese draft forms the basis of member states' formal round of negotiations on the new Treaty in an Intergovernmental Conference (IGC), which was launched at Monday's meeting of foreign ministers.

Portuguese foreign minister Luis Amado says Lisbon is aiming to finalise the IGC talks "as soon as possible" and that it is "sticking to the timetable" to wrap up the talks at an informal EU leaders' meeting in Portugal in October.

The presidency has received some encouragement from Poland, which indicated it would not insist on being able to block decisions in the EU Council - member states' decision-making body, for up to two years.

Warsaw had made its claim under the so-called Ioaninna compromise, which enables an individual member state to delay a decision made by a majority of countries if the decision hurts the interests of that particular country.

But Ana Fotyga, Polish foreign minister, said during the IGC opening ceremony that her country would accept the existing 'Ioaninna' period of blocking legislation of around three months.

She added that in return, Warsaw would like to see the Ioaninna provisions included in the core treaty text instead of in the protocol in order to give it stronger legal status.

Mrs Fotyga's intervention was explained by observers as a watering-down of Warsaw's tough stance on the issue so far.

Andrew Duff, one of the three European Parliament representatives in the IGC talks, said, "this is an improvement of the Polish position." But he added that Warsaw's wish to have the blocking clause included in the core treaty would likely run into fresh resistance from other delegations.

Portugal's Mr Amado said that Mrs Fotyga had given a "positive and constructive intervention", adding that "the issues that Mrs Fotyga raised will be dealt with at the technical level."

Portugal is seeking to keep the IGC talks in the hands of legal experts and not politicians, for as long as possible, to avoid unravelling the detailed political deal on the treaty, which was clinched by EU leaders under the previous EU Presidency in June.

"I will not say there will not at the end be some political problems, but at the moment, that is premature," Mr Amado said.

Czech Vice Prime-Minister Alexandr Vondra, also present at the Brussels meeting, said Prague would support Warsaw's new line on the voting issues, but would also seek further "clarifications" on several institutional technicalities itself.

Another source of political wrangling lies potentially in the UK's opt-out from the EU's Charter of Fundamental Rights, amid an ongoing debate on the exact scope of the opt-out.

In addition, Poland reaffirmed on Monday that it would like to keep its options open on opting out of the charter.

EU Parliament demands Saudi lobby transparency

A resolution demanding Saudi Arabia release prisoners and stop gender-based violence was passed by over 500 MEPs on Thursday in Strasbourg. They also demanded greater transparency over Brussels-based lobbying for the Saudis, following an EUobserver exclusive.

Saudis paying College of Europe to lobby MEPs

The Bruges-based College of Europe is setting up private meetings with the EU institutions for seven ambassadors plus seven high-level officials from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

News in Brief

  1. Tusk to back pro-EU candidates in Polish EP vote
  2. Germany rejects UK appeal on Saudi arms sales
  3. French senators decry 'dysfunction' on Macron security aide affair
  4. France to ban far-right groups over antisemitism
  5. Swedish climate activist to face Juncker in Brussels
  6. Swedish MEP calls for discussion on Orban in EPP
  7. EU countries back copyright reform
  8. Germany keeps EU commission in dark on Dieselgate

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID
  2. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership
  3. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson
  4. Platform for Peace and JusticeTurkey suffering from the lack of the rule of law
  5. UNESDASoft Drinks Europe welcomes Tim Brett as its new president
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers take the lead in combatting climate change
  7. Counter BalanceEuropean Parliament takes incoherent steps on climate in future EU investments
  8. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups

Latest News

  1. Microsoft warns EU on election hack threat
  2. Brexit talks to continue after May-Juncker meeting
  3. Trump and Kurz: not best friends, after all
  4. EU commission appeals Dieselgate ruling
  5. 'No burning crisis' on migrant arrivals, EU agency says
  6. 'No evidence' ECB bond-buying helped euro economy
  7. Juncker: Orban should leave Europe's centre-right
  8. College of Europe alumni ask rector to cut Saudi ties

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs
  9. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  10. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  12. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us