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Resistance grows to EU treaty rewrite for Berlin

The Local · 26 Oct 2010, 15:41

Published: 26 Oct 2010 15:41 GMT+02:00

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Two senior European commissioners, economic affairs chief Olli Rehn and justice heavyweight Viviane Reding, each came out strongly on Tuesday against Berlin's insistence that the 27-nation EU bloc's Lisbon Treaty be changed to accommodate Chancellor Angela Merkel's demands.

She fundamentally wants a new type of emergency fund set up, which would place a lesser onus on national taxpayers and require more involvement from private banks.

Germany pays the lion's share into the current pot, but as opposition mounted, a German governmental source said "the chancellor is on the phone to everyone."

France is formally backing Germany on its treaty change demand - although it has already secured a U-turn from Merkel to allow a permanent fund, its core demand in the debate on how to tighten economic governance, to take shape. The risk is that Germany will not cough up unless it gets enough of what it needs.

Rehn said he would "by far prefer" that national leaders steer clear of demanding a risky rewrite when they gather for a summit in Brussels on Thursday and Friday.

Rehn said the EU could conceivably render a temporary financial safety net that expires in 2012 permanent, as sought by France, through other means. He said the important issue was whether a replacement for the three-year, €440-billion European Financial Stability Fund would be "effective in terms of minimising moral hazard."

That meant limiting the temptation for states in trouble to keep spending in the knowledge that partners will fund massive overdrafts. The emergency fund was set up this year but is as yet untapped.

Germany argues it needs the treaty - that only came into effect less than a year ago - changed to comply with German constitutional requirements.

Rehn said the European Commission was "exploring legal possibilities and constraints" in an effort to avoid long, drawn-out arguments over ratification. Diplomats fear leaders will only agree to ratify after presenting expensive Christmas shopping lists to partners.

Rehn also came out strongly against German calls to suspend voting rights for repeat offenders, saying "my personal view as a committed European" is that such a move "is not necessarily in line with the idea of an ever-closer union."

EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding went further, saying it "seems completely irresponsible to put illusions about new treaties on the table," in an interview with German daily Die Welt to appear on Wednesday.

"Have they not understood that it took us 10 years to finalise the Lisbon treaty," Reding said.

The German governmental source said: "A solution that does not allow for treaty change will not suffice."

That would be "politically unacceptable" to Berlin, which insists that a procedure is established to cater for insolvent states' debts to be restructured, the source said.

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The source said the "central element" for Germany was the involvement of "private creditors, so that states using taxpayers' funds are not the only ones available" to rescue failing EU partners.

Germany argues that the changes it wants written-in could be incorporated when Croatia becomes the 28th EU state, which will already require modifications covering decision-making arithmetic and commissioner appointments.

But Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn warned on Monday that a carve-up between the EU's two biggest powers "leaves a bad taste," not only because Berlin and Paris appear to be dictating EU requirements, but because "there is a risk that we will be plunged back into months and years of navel-gazing."


The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

16:09 October 26, 2010 by William Thirteen
oh please. no one wants to go through that again! just use the extra secret back door measures to get your arm twisting done!
17:52 October 26, 2010 by maxbrando
Doesn't anyone see? The end is near for the Euro and the EU because the PIGS will never allow themselves to pay their own bills. The question now is: Do the people actually want this? I believe they do, because only 1 or 2 countries actually allowed their citizens to vote on EU membership. I don't believe the citizens of any country actually hd a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty. The EU is actually a grand prison where the citizens can be confined , shorn like sheep (which you are), and milked like cows every day, twice a day including Sundays.
18:55 October 26, 2010 by Gretl
No one wants to give sovereign rights, but that's what ultimately lead to the US constitution being rewritten, and why the southern confederacy failed. So, Europe, give it up for a strong central Pan-European federal government with individual states retaining only the rights not retained by the federal government, OR divorce and go your seperate ways?
22:26 October 26, 2010 by BR549
As long as the German Beer purity laws don't change, I'm OK!
22:56 October 26, 2010 by derExDeutsche
Nothing to see here, look away, they are just trying to scare you, those scaremongering Stoooopids! We need more Benefits! THOSE BANKERS... GRRRRRRRR!!!!!
14:21 October 27, 2010 by kamikaze101
Beside from gainning more muslims and gypsies immigrants and bailing out Greece and carry the burdens for eastern european countries , what exactly EU has given you Germany?
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