Encore une fois on est loin de la presse française qui se contente de relayer la communication de l'Elysée qui survalorise le rôle de Nicolas Sarkozy en guise de compensation à ses déboires conjugaux.
EU BREAKS ITS DEADLOCK
The Lisbon Coup
By Barbara Hans in Lisbon
After two years of paralysis, European Union leaders have finally agreed on reforming the organization. The new Lisbon Treaty will allow the EU to stop its internal squabbling and concentrate on its real job -- serving the people of Europe.
But Lisbon didn't go according to expectations. At 1 a.m., after eight hours of negotiations -- a moderate session, by EU standards -- came a surprise announcement: The assembled leaders had
managed to come to an agreement on reforming the EU
It looks like Lisbon finally settled the dispute that has paralyzed the EU for two years straight. The Portuguese capital will now lend its name to an agreement in the same league as Rome, Maastricht, Nice and Amsterdam.
The Lisbon Treaty -- as the new agreement will be known -- will be officially signed on Dec. 13 at the next session of the European Council. After ratification by the member states, it will take effect on Jan. 1, 2009. The new treaty replaces the failed European Constitution, which was scuttled two years ago by voter referendums in France and the Netherlands.
In short, the Lisbon Treaty could guarantee that the EU emerges from years of stagnation and self-absorption to address the purpose for which it was founded: creating policies for the people of Europe.
In the last two years, Europe's heads of state and government have expended a lot of energy squabbling over the structure of the EU's institutions. Now, instead of battling over mathematical formulas, the number of representatives or the spelling of words, the members of the EU can focus on the challenges ahead, rather than on fighting each other.
WHAT THE LISBON TREATY MEANS
Decisions can now be made in more policy areas than before by means of majority voting rather than by unanimous decisions. Exceptions to that will remain domestic, tax and social security issues as well as those relating to foreign policy.
Stating in 2014, each member state will no longer be entitled to an EU commissioner. Only two thirds -- or 18 of 27 -- of the countries will still have a representative on the European Commission, with positions held on a rotating basis.
Citizens of member states can instruct the Commission to draft legislation by filing a petition with at least a million signatures.
The office will not, however, be called "European foreign minister" but "high representative." The holder of this office will also be vice president of the European Commission.
In order to ensure more continuity in political leadership both within and outside of the EU, the president of the European Council will be elected to serve a term of two and a half years. Formerly, the presidency was rotated among member states every six months. The ordering of the rotation will remain however for the bi-annual rotations of the heads of the Council of Ministers.
And it's high time for that, if the EU does not want to lose further credibility. The politicians appeared correspondingly relieved after their meeting, even if the tough negotiations and the hard-fought concessions prevented the mood from being euphoric. Chancellor Angela Merkel welcomed the agreement as a major success -- one that also reflects well on the German presidency earlier this year. she said. Europe will work better with the reform treaty, she said. Excessive joy was not in evidence, given the tough bargaining by some member states. "I do not want to hide the fact that it was sometimes laborious and disappointing, said Merkel.
Poland Got "All It Wanted"
Neither did Poland's President Lech Kaczynski hurry to join the ranks of Portuguese Prime Minister José Socrates, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Luxembourg's Prime Minister Jean Claude Juncker and German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who all stressed the positive consequences of the agreement for Europe. Kaczynski saw only the positive consequences for his own country: Poland had "achieved all it wanted," he said, commenting on the meeting.
After all, elections are taking place in Poland this Sunday, and the Polish government wanted to save face in the negotiations, while at the same time bringing home a success.
The result is a legally complex agreement. Although Poland has succeeded in its demand for more influence in the Council of Ministers, the so-called "Ioannina" clause -- which would allow groups of EU states to delay decisions they did not like -- has only been included in a declaration and not, as originally requested by Warsaw, as part of the treaty itself. The declaration can only be changed in the future by a unanimous decision. Moreover, Poland is to receive a permanent advocate-general post at the European Court of Justice.
Dispute Over Seats in Parliament
A larger problem in Lisbon, according to sources from EU circles, was Italy's demand for more influence in the European Parliament. President Romano Prodi insisted on having 73 seats, instead of 72, after the parliament is reduced in size -- in order to be equal with Britain.
"This is a typical European compromise," Jo Leinen, chair of the Committee on Constitutional Affairs in the European Parliament, told SPIEGEL ONLINE. The agreement was "not completely true to principles" but served nevertheless to overcome a deadlock. "This compromise is not particularly harmful to the Parliament, but it also does not creates complete clarity." In fact, he said, a precedent has been set for compromises that other members could exploit in the future.
Bulgaria Can Call It an "Evro"
This new agreement won't change much in the actual voting practices of the European Parliament. In many cases the session chair already does not take part in the vote. At any rate, the principle isn't a European invention; it's already in use by the British House of Commons.
At the express request of Poland, the parliament will revisit the question of weighting and distributing votes -- but these negotiations will no longer hold back the Reform Treaty.
The summit participants also agreed to let Bulgaria spell "euro" as "evro" in Cyrillic in the future -- even though it still isn't clear when Bulgaria will adopt the euro as its currency.