- Title: VARIOUS: European Union leaders agree detailed mandate for new treaty
- Date: 24th June 2007
- Summary: (BN5) BRUSSELS, BELGIUM (JUNE 23, 2007)(REUTERS)# (NIGHT SHOTS) EUROPEAN COUNCIL WITH SATELLITE TRUCKS PARKED IN FRONT
- Reuters ID: LVAB8IY7MG4YUN25KC7C3TG0R8FH
- Duration: 00:00:04
- Aspect Ratio:
- Topics: European Union
- Story Text: EU leaders on Saturday (June 23) endorsed a negotiating mandate and the convening of an Inter-Governmental Conference for a reform treaty to replace the EU constitution rejected in 2005 by French and Dutch voters.
The leaders agreed to negotiate a reform treaty by the end of this year, to be ratified by mid-2009, replacing the EU constitution rejected in 2005 by French and Dutch voters.
The deal, reached at 4:30 a.m. (0230 GMT) after a marathon wrangle, could relaunch the political integration of Europe after two years of gloom and introspection.
"Only through the fact that we now have a good chance of having a treaty in 2009 is the path open for further enlargement," German Chancellor Angela Merkel said after the marathon summit.
Provided it is ratified this time, the treaty should give Europe stronger leadership, a streamlined decision-making process, a bigger voice on the world stage and more say for the European and national parliaments.
Portuguese Prime Minister Jose Socrates, who takes over the EU chair in July, said he hoped to have the treaty agreed as early as October.
Leaders of several countries convinced Polish President Lech Kaczynski to back down after weeks of resistance and accept a compromise on voting rights in exchange for a long delay in their introduction.
"There were dramatic moments, yes, there were dramatic moments," Kaczynski admitted.
Merkel struggled to break Polish opposition to the treaty which it complained would cut Warsaw's voting power and give more say to big countries, especially Germany.
She eventually threatened to launch treaty negotiations without Warsaw's assent, prompting a final dash for compromise.
Poland settled for a deal that put off full application of the new decision-making procedure until 2017.
Warsaw was also offered pledges of solidarity by the rest of the bloc in the event of future energy crises, a big concern of Poland which is heavily dependent on imports from giant gas and oil exporter Russia, its neighbour and former communist master.
Most Poles have backed the Kaczynskis' demands to strengthen the country's position but opposed fighting to the end at a cost of worsening relations with other countries.
"It is probably not worth it (negotiating so hard) but looking at the result I think it was useful. We will see what will be next, how Poland will lose by playing so hard." said Warsaw resident Jacek when speaking to Reuters.
Another resident of Warsaw, who declined to give his name said that Kaczynski had to make a stand because of Poland's weak position, but that in the long run it wouldn't help.
"Our position is so weak and we are considered by Europe as a Trojan Horse, so (a hard stance in negotiations) will not change anything. It turned out to be useful, but I don't think that in the long run (a hard position) would make sense." he said.
Analysts say that while formal power counts in the EU, the ability of building alliances is more important for a country's position in the bloc and losing a key ally like Germany could eventually backfire.
The treaty will preserve key features of the constitution such as the creation of a long-term president of the Union and a foreign policy chief with increased powers.
The tense summit was French President Nicolas Sarkozy's first and British Prime Minister Tony Blair's last.
"The constitutional treaty was put to one side. We went back to a conventional treaty. The 4 essential things that we in the UK required in order to protect our position have all been obtained," Blair said.
"There are no winners and there are no losers and that was important and Europe went back to work and the mandate is clear and precise and the dates are fixed and you are going to get a Europe with institutions now. Listen its very important news, its maybe the most important European summit in years and years,'' Sarkozy described.
Sarkozy injected a feverish activism into the quest for what he dubbed a "simplified treaty", while Blair ended his decade in power without having achieved his stated goal of putting Britain at the heart of Europe.
Instead, he was forced to negotiate exemptions and opt-outs from key parts of the treaty to avoid a referendum which his successor-in-waiting, Gordon Brown, would almost certainly lose.
The leaders agreed on a new position to run EU foreign policy, but without the constitution title of foreign minister.
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