EU treaty moves forward after Poland backs down

Published on Gulf Times, 24 July, 2007.

3 excerpts: … Poland backed down yesterday on a key objection to a treaty to reform European Union institutions as formal negotiations began to turn the political deal clinched at a summit last month into a legal text.

Polish Foreign Minister Anna Fotyga dropped Warsaw’s demand that groups of countries should be able to delay any contentious EU decision for up to two years …

… Many EU leaders have warned Poland against reopening the deal it won last month, which delayed the full entry into force of a new population-based voting system until 2017 and set a lower threshold for countries to delay decisions after that.

The ink on the summit deal was barely dry when Polish Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski said Warsaw had won the right for groups of states short of a blocking minority to postpone decisions for up to two years.

Legal experts will spend two days this week examining the text to identify potential difficulties …

… The new voting system will give big countries such as Germany more weight at the expense of medium-sized and smaller states, especially Poland.

Diplomats played down the risk of other issues, such as the future of Turkey’s membership talks, holding up the treaty.

They said Britain, one of Ankara’s strongest supporters, wanted the treaty concluded as soon as possible to face down demands by Eurosceptics for a referendum and lay the issue to rest before a possible early general election.

Only Sweden may demand assurances that France will not press President Nicolas Sarkozy’s call to change the objective of Turkey’s negotiations in December before signing up to the reform treaty in October, they said. (full text).

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