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European Law Monitor newsEU Summit: MEPs initial reactions to the compromise deal struck in Brussels on 23 June

On Saturday 23 June, EU leaders reached a compromise on the future institutional shape of the EU. A way was found to meet the concerns of different States, while keeping most of the constitutional treaty reforms. This week, MEPs have their chance to tell Mrs Merkel, the outgoing President-in-Office of Council, their thoughts on the deal she brokered. EP President Hans-Gert Pöttering welcomed "the reforms necessary for more democracy and efficiency in the EU" and new powers for its Parliament.

On Wednesday 27 June, a special plenary session of the European Parliament will be held at which Mrs Merkel will report to MEPs on the achievements of the six-month German Presidency of the European Union.   From the outset, the German government made the achievement of a deal on the constitutional future of the Union the centrepiece of its presidency.   It will therefore be essentially on the outcome of the weekend's summit that MEPs will judge the presidency.
MEPs have an important role to play in the next stages of the process. An "Intergovernmental Conference" (IGC) will now be convened with the task of drawing up the new draft treaty as soon as possible and in any case before the end of 2007.   A delegation of three MEPs will participate in the IGC, ensuring that Parliament's voice is heard as the decisions of EU leaders are translated into the fine print of a treaty.

MEPs first reactions - in spite of compromises, more democratic

The President of Parliament, Hans-Gert Pöttering, welcomed the fact that: "The main principles defended by the European Parliament will become a reality with this treaty reform."     Though he expressed regret that some institutional changes will be postponed, he acknowledged that this was an inevitable part of striking a deal.   In his view: "This compromise makes possible the reforms necessary for more democracy and efficiency in the European Union. On this basis, the new Treaty will reinforce significantly the European Parliament and thereby enhance democracy in the European Union."
He went on to welcome the fact that the European Parliament will have three representatives at the Intergovernmental Conference and that the agreed timetable provides for ratification of the new Treaty before the European elections in 2009.

Some regrets over dropped "Constitution" tag

Speaking to journalists, the President of the Parliament's Constitutional Affairs Committee, Jo Leinen (PES, DE) also acknowledged the preservation of much that was positive from Parliament's point of view: "The substance of the constitution has been kept: many points we wanted are in the new text; one of the most important ones is the legal personality and the abolition of the pillar structure".
He did however express reservations, pointing out for example that the UK opt-out from the Charter of fundamental rights pointed to a "two-speed Europe".   He also regretted the dropping of the word "constitution": "We have lost the vision of the EU of the future," he said.

"Substance of the EU draft Constitution retained"

Elmar Brok (EPP-ED, DE) who together with Enrique Barón Crespo (PES, ES), drew up the report containing Parliament's recommendations to EU leaders, was broadly positive.   According to Brok: "In spite of all the compromises the substance of the EU draft Constitution   was retained, e.g., the expansion of majority decisions, the rules on foreign and security policy, the introduction of the juridical personality and the legally binding effect of the charter of fundamental rights."
MEPs meeting later in the Constitutional Affairs Committee also added there reaction to the proposed new Treaty.

The House as a whole will give its views on the new constitutional deal on Wednesday, 27 June.   You can watch the debate live on the European Parliament website at 15.00-17.00 CET.

Reproduced with the permission of the European Parliament REF   20070625STO08310