EU leaders agree new treaty deal

Reply Thu 18 Oct, 2007 07:51 pm
EU leaders agree new treaty deal

EU leaders have reached a deal on a landmark treaty to reform the 27-member bloc, according to Portugal, which holds the rotating presidency.

The deal in Lisbon was sealed after last-minute changes sought by Austria, Bulgaria, Italy and Poland were agreed.

The treaty is designed to replace the European Constitution that was rejected by French and Dutch voters in 2005.

It includes plans for an EU foreign policy chief, a longer-term president and fewer national veto rights.

The treaty will be formally signed by European leaders in Lisbon on 13 December.

If ratified by all 27 member states, the treaty will come into force in 2009.

'Great achievement'

In the last-minute negotiations, Italy gained an extra seat in the future European Parliament, returning it to parity with the UK and restoring Italian national pride, the BBC's Oana Lungescu in Lisbon says.

Poland got guarantees that a small group of countries would be able to delay EU decisions they do not like - a victory for the Polish government just days before Sunday's early parliamentary election, our correspondent adds.

Austria also reached a deal over its bid to maintain quotas for foreign students, with the European Commission agreeing to suspend for five years its legal action over Austria's quota.

Bulgaria meanwhile won the right to call the EU single currency the "evro", rather than euro, in its Cyrillic alphabet.

Portuguese Prime Minister Jose Socrates, who chaired the summit, said Europe had emerged from an "institutional crisis".

"With this treaty, Europe is showing that the European project is on the move. Now we can look forward to the future with confidence," he added.

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said the treaty was a "great achievement".
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old europe
Reply Wed 12 Dec, 2007 01:56 pm
MEPs disrupt EU charter signing

The signing ceremony for the European Union's charter of fundamental rights has been disrupted by European deputies who want referendums on EU reforms.

MEPs at opposite ends of the political spectrum chanted and brandished placards, many of them booing.

Dozens heckled Portuguese PM Jose Socrates, whose country holds the EU Presidency, when he signed the charter in the parliament in Strasbourg.

EU leaders will sign the new treaty of the union in Lisbon on Thursday.

The largest contingent of protesters were British, with others from countries including France, Italy and Poland.

"Referendum, we want a referendum. The people of Europe deserve to decide for themselves," Nigel Farage, leader of Britain's UK Independence Party, shouted from his seat.

"No matter how loud you heckle and yell, today is a day of fundamental importance for Europe," Mr Socrates said in his speech to the assembly.

Britain and Poland have secured opt-outs from the charter, which will come into force once the EU's 27 member states ratify a reform treaty to replace the constitution rejected by French and Dutch voters in 2005.
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