News from Lisbon about the new treaty

European Parliament in session (picture European Parliament)

A report from the House of Commons European Scrutiny committee earlier this month complained about the procedure that had been followed in drawing up the new Reform Treaty. It objected to “an essentially secret drafting process conducted by the Presidency, with texts produced at the last moment before pressing for agreement. The compressed timetable now proposed, having regard to the sitting terms of national parliaments, could not have been better designed to marginalise their role.”

Read the whole report here.

The process of negotiation conducted by the German presidency was investigated and criticised by Jan Seifert on his blog here:

The problem of the secret negotiations has not ended with the German presidency, of course: the Portuguese are continuing the tradition. The national governments like it that way because they can say one thing to their counterparts in other countries and something different to the press afterwards. Here is an example.

The Guardian reports that in the last minute discussions, Gordon Brown “moved to stop the European parliament having a veto over the appointment of the president of the commission.”

Read the report here – in the 11.30 briefing.

Now, the European Parliament has had such a veto since the Treaty of Amsterdam of 1997 – prior that, it had to be merely “consulted”. To supporters of parliamentary democracy in Europe, the role of the EP in choosing the president of the Commission is extremely important. It is barely conceivable that it should be reduced, and certainly not without a fight.

So, what has Gordon Brown actually done? Did the issue arise, or not? If it did, what was agreed? At the time of writing, there does not seem to be a final text of last night’s agreement on the web, so I cannot check what the final deal is. When I can, I will post an update here.

The Guardian blog on the Lisbon summit is not entirely unquestioning of the official statements. The big issue, though, is “whether or not Gordon did in fact have a glass of champagne last night. I’ve heard two conflicting reports. The question is, is there photographic evidence?” Good to know that the media is active on the European question …

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