- Title: BELGIUM: EU backs limited treaty change to ward off crises
- Date: 30th October 2010
- Summary: BRUSSELS, BELGIUM (OCTOBER 28, 2010) (REUTERS) TRAFFIC
- Embargoed: 14th November 2010 12:00
- Location: Belgium, Belgium
- Country: Belgium
- Topics: Sports
- Reuters ID: LVADLW0FWVIFC1NO8FN3SE9WHATA
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- Story Text: The European Union on Thursday (October 28) supported calls by Germany and France for limited changes to the bloc's main treaty to help shore up Europe's defences against any new financial crises.
EU leaders agreed at a summit that changes were needed to create a permanent system to handle sovereign debt problems and endorsed tougher budget rules, including sanctions on states that do not keep deficits and debt in check.
It was a victory for German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
''Everybody agreed that there must be a permanent crisis mechanism, and everybody agreed that this must be formed by the member states. Everybody therefore agreed that this will require a limited treaty change," Merkel said.
But Berlin failed to win widespread support for demands to suspend the voting rights of member states which breach the rules. This would have required more radical treaty change and will be looked at only after the other measures are dealt with.
The leaders asked Herman Van Rompuy, the president of the EU Council grouping national governments, to prepare changes to the Lisbon treaty in time for agreement at a summit in December and said he should work on them with the European Commission.
"Heads of state and government agree on the need for member states to establish a permanent crisis mechanism to safeguard the financial stability of the euro area as a whole and invite the president of the European Council to undertake consultations with the members of the European Council on a limited treaty change required to that effect, not modifying article 125 -- the no bailout clause," Van Rompuy told journalists after the meeting which was described by several participants as heated and emotional.
Van Rompuy said there was no reason to reopen the institutional debate. Most leaders opposed big changes to a charter that took eight years to negotiate and became law only 10 months ago. But the leaders eventually accepted, in some cases reluctantly, that small amendments were needed to protect the euro, although Britain made its backing dependent on keeping EU spending in check and Poland tied its support to a deal on pension reforms, EU diplomats said.
''It's not about reopening the Lisbon Treaty or to have a new institutional debate, no, but you have to fill the need to have a permanent crisis mechanism and this is the wish of everyone and so you need a constitutional basis, a more effective basis in the Treaty,'' Van Rompuy said.
Any change to an EU treaty must be approved unanimously and ratified by all member states, either in a vote of parliament or via a referendum. The European Parliament should also agree.
EU leaders have asked Van Rompuy to present some proposals for the change in the the next EU summit in December.
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