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Europe's treaty dilemma

brussels bureau

Europe's treaty dilemma


In order to make sure greater fiscal discipline is set in stone, Germany and France announced a new European treaty. That is what has to happen they say, but both countries know that in doing so they opening up a Pandora’s box. There are two options.

Immediately incorporate the new text into the existing treaties, making ratification by all 27 member states essential.

Or option two: make a partial deal, restricted to the 17 countries in the euro zone, leaving the door open for others who wish to join later.

If the first option appears a little unrealistic it is because it runs a high risk of being blocked. To ratify the Lisbon Treaty, Ireland had to hold two referendums to win the approval of citizens.

In the UK, the Eurosceptic wing of David Cameron’s party would be sure to present him some difficulties. Hence the idea to stick with 17 euro zone members.

Limiting agreements to a certain number of member states has been done in the past, although it can present some legal problems according to Marianne Dony of the Institute for European Studies.

She told euronews: “Taking a totally independent treaty, as was the case of Schengen in the beginning, as these treaties are completely independent of the Treaty on European Union, they are obliged to have their own institutions, their own bodies; they can’t just borrow the institutions of the European Union to the extent that they are treated separately, and this is obviously the biggest drawback.”

In the case of Schengen, it took 12 years for the agreement to be incorporated in the treaties. One thing is certain, if a political agreement is found on Friday, that is when the hard work for the lawyers will begin.

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