30/01/2012 The Draft treaty for economic union: is the Parliament the defender of the community approach?
On Wednesday 18 January a resolution was passed by a large majority during the plenary session in Strasbourg, expressing the European Parliament’s opposition to the draft treaty for an economic and monetary union, as drawn up after the European Council of 8-9 December 2011. If differences persist in the hemicycle on this issue, the message from the Parliament is fairly clear; the community approach should be prioritised.
An ‘unacceptable’ draft for the European Parliament
In yet another last chance meeting, the European Council on 8-9 December came to an agreement, mostly based on the common stance of France and Germany, looking towards the speedy drafting of a treaty (by March) that would etch in stone member states commitments to maintain the budgetary discipline that has been deemed necessary.
During its inception, the agreement was already famous as the United Kingdom refused to take part. So now it is an agreement of 26, but deemed essential by the heads of government. When asked by Toutleeurope.eu the French minister for European Affairs, Jean Leonetti, explained to us at the start of the year that this formalisation of budgetary rules was necessary, for many member states as some, France among them, had not respected the rules of the stability pact for quite some time.
Given the short time scale, member states submitted a draft of the text to the negotiators, and also to their co-legislator, the European Parliament. However since receiving the draft the opinion of the euro-deputies has been uninanimously that the text is unacceptable in its present state.
‘The latest version of the draft treaty is not compatible with the current treaties of the European Union and does not respect the ‘community approach’ in terms of the decision making process.’ Elmar Brok (EPP, DE), Roberto Gualtieri (S&D, IT), Guy Verhofstadt (ADLE, BE), and Daniel Cohn-Bendit (Greens/ALE, FR) jointly stated on Wednesday 11 January, representing the Parliament in the working group that is drafting the treaty.
‘More specifically this draft does not guarantee that any decision looking to implement a new agreement would be considered with regard to the normal procedure laid out in European treaties, so as to ensure adequate control and democratic responsibility’ the common statement says.
This position was bolstered a week later in plenary session in Strasbourg with the adoption of a resolution that reaffirmed the will of the European Parliament to prioritise the community approach over the intergovernmental one, the option that the Council seems to favour. It is possible to create a solution that would make the treaty a simple ‘pact of stakeholders’ like some people are talking about in the parliament, a pact that obliges countries to respect a certain number of rules, defined by them and for them.
But would this be enough? Deputies have also expressed their concern in being cut out of negotiations and not being able to play the role of co-legislators.
The community approach is agreed on within the parliament, but the position of the political groups does vary.
For Daniel Cohn Bendit, joint president of the greens, ‘the proposed agreement asks more questions than it answers on the Euro zone crisis. It is a useless agreement: a new agreement is not needed to give the EU the tools it needs to deal with the crisis.’
This view is shared by the French socialist delegation in the European Parliament: ‘The contents of the draft is dangerous: it’s going to constitutionalise the ‘golden rule’ that will condemn the Euro zone to austerity’ explains deputy Pervenche Berès.
For the GUE/NGL Danish deputy Søren Bo Søndergaard ‘this treaty goes against Europe’s interests- it’s a bad solution and the wrong way to go about things. It’s clear that we cannot stimulate growth and prosperity just by imposing restrictions.’
The European people’s party, which is in favour of budget restriction, has also some doubts about the draft. ‘Stricter measures must be included so as to ensure that budgetary stability goes hand in hand with solidarity and new growth,’ Elmar Brok highlighted.