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Plain sailing predicted for EU treaty conference

brussels bureau

Plain sailing predicted for EU treaty conference


Clear orders from their leaders mean ministers’ work should go smoothly when the intergovernmental conference to draft the simplified treaty for the EU gets into gear in Brussels on Monday. No nasty surprises are expected. That is the view of many near the process, such as French conservative eurodeputy Alain Lamassoure. He is not even worried about Poland or the UK.

Lamassoure: “They obtained the most, and they gave their formal agreement – Poland’s president and prime minister, the United Kingdom’s Mr Tony Blair, who still held his seat, and his successor Mister Gordon Brown. I think the work of the IGC will essentially be a job of crafting it into legal form.”

The leaders hammered out a compromise last month. Yet European analyst Marco Incerti looks ahead to possible hiccoughs when it comes to the ratifications.

Incerti: “Gordon Brown will have to convince his people and the media in his country that this compromise remains of a non-constitutional nature, but his decision will probably be based not only on the content of the treaty but also on the surveys, the opinion polls, the support that he will enjoy in the population.”

If Brown were challenged by the opposition to hold a referendum that could jeopardize the treaty. But he says it is so much less ambitious than the constitution rejected by French and Dutch voters in 2005 that it does not need to be put to a vote. British Labour MEP Richard Corbett also pooh-poohs the opposition.

Corbett: “They’re making themselves look a bit silly in asking for a referendum on a pragmatic set of changes like changing the terms of office of the president of the EU from six months to 30 months. You have a national referendum on that? Wow! People will think you are crazy.6”

EU president Portugal says it has had word that the Poles will stick to the mandate they agreed to. If this plays out, the treaty could be signed at a summit in October.

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