The ‘Reform Treaty’

treaty In June 2007, after a long and heated debate, the 27 leaders of the EU’s nations agreed on the new draft (‘Reform’) treaty which should be finalised in the next few weeks by the established Intergovernmental Conference. This treaty is expected to be signed in October 2007 in Lisbon, and will enter into force before 2009’s election after being ratified by each member state.

Both in daily news and in blogs on the internet the treaty has stirred some furious discussion. Traditionally, the treaty is opposed mainly from the Right (Torygraph here or here can always give you the idea). The British Conservative Party (and other similar parties across Europe, the Civic Democratic Party from my homeland Czechia takes an almost indistinguishable stance) and it’s supporters claim that the British sovereignty is under the threat and that Tony Blair sold Britain to the European Bureaucrats. However, their urges on Gordon Brown to hold a national referendum will most probably come in vain.

The Reform Treaty in short:

  • The most radical changes are presented in the highly criticized Article 9 which formalizes the new ‘Institutions of Europe.’
  • The treaty establishes a new system of voting in the Council of the EU favouring mostly the large and populous countries like the UK, Germany and France.
  • Includes Charter of Fundamental Rights (from which the UK opted out)
  • Creates the post of ‘High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy’ (under the former Constitution called ‘Union Foreign Minister’)

The current version of the draft can be downloaded from the website of the Council of the EU: http://www.consilium.europa.eu/

Whether one agrees on their interpretation whether more united Europe is ‘good’ or ‘bad’ the fact that the Reform Treaty is the old European Constitution in disguise is mentioned by various think tanks across Europe. For instance, Open Europe has provided a lot of ammunition for the critics when it recently announced that 96% of the new treaty remains the same as in the Constitution and only the used terminology had been changed. If you are still not convinced that the European ‘monster’ rises from its grave, you can also download quite informative guide to the new treaty from Open Europe’s website where they compare the old and new treatises article after article.

Although some European leaders start to admit that the treaty ‘might be’ really more similar than they told the public at the end of June, the British foreign & commonwealth office recently published an interesting piece of propaganda called ‘The EU Reform Treaty: 10 myths’ that tries to enlighten the British public and show them ‘how wrong they are’ when they fear that the treaty will in night silently creep into their country and sell them to the EU bureaucrats.

The rising importance of Brussels is therefore a fact and the European Union will probably for the next few years remain this strange combination of the strong bureaucratic centre in Brussels and union of national governments (who will remain, even when the new treaty is ratified, strongest policy-makers on the European scene). What from this follows is that the direct control of the European peoples over the Union’s policies will be almost non-existent.

Although it might seem that I am a critic of further European unification, I am on the contrary a strong supporter of ‘creating a strong Europe.’ However, I would neither like to see the Europe ruled by gigantic super-government from Brussels (as the Left would like to see in other to promote universal welfare policies), or feeble economic Union of nation states as the Right across Europe proposes. I would like to see the Europe of communities, Europe which could show itself as one strong actor on the international political scene, having common foreign and defence policy. Europe united by the ‘idea,’ realising that it is both strategically and above all culturally necessary to stand against the dictate of the emerging global powers – Russia, China, India – and also against the USA. This is the imperative of realpolitik. This is the only way to create Europe build on our differences, united under the common goal and preserving our cultural heritage.

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