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Monday, December 12, 2011

The European council decisions

Too much has been said about the no/maybe/yes/I will ask the Parliament response of the Hungarian prime minister to the new Euro pact.
He had one good remark in the runoff to it: he sad that an intergovernmental solution to the problem is not a good one. But the reason of his "naysaying" was not that. He expressed quite a couple of times that he wants to retain the possibility of Hungary to make tax competition to the other European states (see the part on the Euro-plus pact in my previous post How did the Hungarian presidency do?).
The reference to the need for a parliamentary approval also is a pretext only, there is no need for that in case of a Council declaration - ratification of treaties comes after the signature by the heads of government and state and this is not even a treaty yet. Ms Merkel, who needs that, had the discussion in the Bundestag before going to the Council meeting (which can also be called summit, see later).
But in the conundrum about Britain's "no", the two references to the need to have the parliaments approve (Sweden and the Czech Republic) the Hungarian reaction mostly went unmentioned by a lot of commentators. But what was totally forgotten, was what the way the decision will be implemented, means for the EU.
A little off: a lot was said before what Germany and what France wanted, among others in the debate of the Bundestag, so it was no surprise for anybody. But Merkel mentioned there more important changes she wanted to achieve with a change to the Treaties (the legal framework of the EU) - a step towards more intergovernmentalism - powers for the Council and the European Parliament to propose legislation, which now is the privilege of the Commission. She did not directly succeed in that. An indirect blow was, however suffered by the present decisionmaking structures of the EU: the changes will be implemented by intergovernmental treaties instead of a change to the Treaties of the EU themselves. And thus, a precedent was set to circumvent the existing legal framework. Of course, a change to the treaties would have needed a referendum, in particular in Ireland and the U.K. (well, the U.K. failed to agree anyway...) while international treaties are normally ratified by the national parliaments only. That is actually why this Council meeting is also a summit.
So wait and see, what will happen.
Do the governments want the Commission to be the executive organ also behind this system, i.e. check and sanction the implementation of intergovernmental treaties - what will be the legal base for that? If the Commmission accepts, will it be an increase of its powers or the acceptance of the start of (no, not of a beautiful friendship à la "Casablanca") a new decision mechanism in the EU which is paralel to the one which exists? Or will the Council organisation be enhanced for that and thus really create paralel structures - the six point economic package has just entered into force and will immediately get competition?

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