The AFP reported today that the European Union members agreed to make “landmark” and “tricky” reforms to the current Lisbon Treaty designed to “fend off another financial crisis.” To clarify, they did not all agree on final reforms, yet they all agreed changes must be made.
However, a top EU diplomat warned that getting all member nations to agree on the actual reforms may be a “mission impossible.” So, reportedly, the final deal may be hashed out in secret without any input from the European parliament or “wish-list” political requests from representatives of member states. According to AFP:
The EU 27 are hoping a rewrite can be concluded via a quick and easy procedure that bypasses the European parliament and closes the door on member states who come knocking with wish-lists of their own to re-open chapters of the treaty.
EU President Herman Van Rompuy claimed that reforms are essential to shore up the euro and “to make the European economies more crisis proof.” The biggest reform to the treaty has been demanded by Europe’s powerhouse economies, Germany and France, who want the creation of a permanent rescue fund to help fiscally challenged nations in the union.
Under the Lisbon Treaty it is currently not allowed for members to bail out other members who are in need of financial assistance, which is in direct contrast to the structure of the temporary European Financial Stability Fund created in May to “save” Greece. Merkel and others, claiming that the EFSF brought financial stability and saved the euro, demand that it is made a permanent rescue mechanism. However, the fund only seems to provide a crisis cushion and does little to fundamentally fix the underlying issues of sovereign debt.
While David Cameron agrees in principle to the rescue fund, he came bearing a message that the EU spending is costing the UK too much money. At the European Parliament one week before, UK’s Nigel Farage forcefully called any increased funding to the EU without a voice in the reforms “Taxation without Representation.”
With more talks planned for December, Van Rompuy belittles the member states’ individual concerns as petty “shopping lists” and declared, “We don’t want to reopen the treaty.” And in typical dictatorial form, the economically powerful nations also attempted to squash the voting rights of fiscally weaker members, as they sought the “suspension of voting rights for repeated debt and deficit offenders.” This demand by Germany and France that seems to erode national sovereignty even more than the current treaty does, has been “essentially buried” for now.
Some members also felt slighted by France and Germany making joint public demands prior to the meeting. It demonstrates that the Union has a hierarchy that intends to bully other less-affluent members. However, “Several Franco-German proposals failed to be carried . . . so you can’t say everyone succumbed and fell into line with France and Germany,” claimed the head of eurozone finance ministers, Jean-Claude Juncker.
With clear disagreements emerging, the euro may face another round of weakening against other currencies because of the uncertainty. In order to prevent these disagreements from blossoming in the media, it would seem that the EU must act quickly, which essentially means they’ll have to “bypass the European parliament and close the door on member states,” who have real concerns over sovereignty.
In turn, the weaker nations who may squeak too loudly would likely be the ones most hurt by a devalued euro. Thus, such institutions claiming to be unions like the EU, but that are invariably based on hierarchy, always seem to manifest in calculated fashion to provide no voice for the individual parts — especially when they are weak or small.