Friday

24th Nov 2017

Treaty made unreadable to avoid referendums, says Amato

The new EU reform treaty text was deliberately made unreadable for citizens to avoid calls for referendum, one of the central figures in the treaty drafting process has said.

Speaking at a meeting of the Centre for European Reform in London on Thursday (12 July) former Italian prime minister Giuliano Amato said: "They [EU leaders] decided that the document should be unreadable. If it is unreadable, it is not constitutional, that was the sort of perception".

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

"Where they got this perception from is a mystery to me. In order to make our citizens happy, to produce a document that they will never understand!"

"But, there is some truth [in it]. Because if this is the kind of document that the IGC [intergovernmental conference] will produce, any Prime Minister – imagine the UK Prime Minister - can go to the Commons and say 'look, you see, it's absolutely unreadable, it's the typical Brussels treaty, nothing new, no need for a referendum."

"Should you succeed in understanding it at first sight there might be some reason for a referendum, because it would mean that there is something new," he added.

Mr Amato, who is now minister of the interior in Italy, has been a central figure in all stages of the year-long process of writing a new constitution for Europe.

He was vice-president and leader of the socialists in the Convention, the body that wrote the first constitution-draft in 2002-2003 under the leadership of former French president Giscard d'Estaing.

But the draft was rejected in referendums in France and the Netherlands in 2005.

Following two years of 'reflection' Mr Amato headed the 16-strong group of politicians which prepared a simplified version of the document.

Unofficially known as the "Amato Group" the group stripped the rejected constitution of its constitutional elements - including the article on the EU's symbols. But the main elements of the original constitution were kept in.

EU leaders in June agreed on a "reform treaty" blueprint which follows the outlines of the Amato Group's proposal but which has also come under criticism for complicating rather than simplifying the text.

A so-called Intergovernmental Conference (IGC) - a round of technical negotiations on the treaty - will kick off on 23 July and should be finalised by October.

The job to produce a so-called consolidated text, updating the existing treaty with the new paragraphs, will be left with 'the Secretariat', Mr Amato said referring to the secretariat of the EU council, member states' decision-making body.

"Nothing [will be] directly produced by the prime ministers because they feel safer with the unreadable thing. They can present it better in order to avoid dangerous referendums".

The speech was recorded by UK based think tank Open Europe. It is also available on YouTube.

"This is an extraordinary admission from someone who has been close to the negotiations on the EU treaty", said Open Europe director Neil O'Brien.

"The idea of just changing the name of the Constitution and pretending that it is just another complex treaty shows a total contempt for voters."

Analysis

EU 'cannot afford' lengthy German deadlock

Angela Merkel's failure to form a coalition government has raised concerns in Europe that the EU's most powerful country will send the block into paralysis.

MEPs put 'Article 7' against Poland on launch pad

MEPs urged Poland to comply with the EU treaties and to halt the 'reform' of the judiciary that could further undermine the rule of law in the country. Polish PM Beata Szydlo called the vote 'outrageous'.

Berlin risks being 'culprit' for stalling EU, warns Green MEP

Reinhard Buetikofer, who participated in the failed coalition talks, puts the blame squarely on FDP being 'afraid to govern', but hopes "there will be a lot of phone calls" to German politicians on the consequences of the deadlock in Berlin.

News in Brief

  1. Work with Israel, Egypt on gas exploration, says Commission
  2. Only seven EU states have 'advanced' stage climate plans
  3. EU dashes integration hopes of eastern countries
  4. EU approves joint Irish electricity scheme
  5. German president to launch 'Grand Coalition' talks
  6. Irish opposition 'threatens national interest', says minister
  7. SPD drops opposition to grand coalition in Germany
  8. Macron avoids criticising Poland on legal reforms

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Friends of ArmeniaPresident Sargsyan Joined EuFoA Honorary Council Inaugural Meeting
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Energy Ministers Pledge to Work More Closely at Nordic and EU Level
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsEU Leaders Should Press Azerbaijan President to End the Detention of Critics
  4. European Friends of ArmeniaLaunch of Honorary Council on the Occasion of the Eastern Partnership Summit and CEPA
  5. CECEKey Stakeholders to Jointly Tackle the Skills Issue in the Construction Sector
  6. Idealist Quarterly"Dear Politics, Time to Meet Creativity!" Afterwork Discussion & Networking
  7. Mission of China to the EUAmbassador Zhang Ming Received by Tusk; Bright Future for EU-China Relations
  8. EU2017EEEstonia, With the ECHAlliance, Introduces the Digital Health Society Declaration
  9. ILGA EuropeFreedom of Movement For All Families? Same Sex Couple Ask EU Court for Recognition
  10. European Jewish CongressEJC to French President Macron: We Oppose All Contact With Far-Right & Far-Left
  11. EPSUWith EU Pillar of Social Rights in Place, Time Is Ticking for Commission to Deliver
  12. ILGA EuropeBan on LGBTI Events in Ankara Must Be Overturned

Latest News

  1. Lead MEP says EU is weeks away from deal on car approvals
  2. EU still giving gas projects 'fast-track' status
  3. Irish crisis may complicate Brexit summit
  4. UK to call out 'hostile' Russia at EU summit
  5. EU calls for better disease prevention
  6. Eastern Partnership must not be deterred by Russian aggression
  7. EU awaits UK proposals in final push for Brexit breakthrough
  8. Berlin risks being 'culprit' for stalling EU, warns Green MEP