LAWFUEL- The Legal Newswire – Legal experts from the 27 EU nations overnight agreed on a new reform treaty for the bloc, to replace the failed constitution, the EU’s Portuguese presidency announced.
The “legal experts found agreement. (The) treaty draft is ready”, the EU presidency said, following lengthy talks between the drafting experts.
However, the agreement at expert level is not the last hurdle which the treaty must face.
The treaty text will be considered by EU foreign ministers when they meet in Luxembourg on October 15 and then EU heads of state and government will have the chance to approve it when they meet in Lisbon on October 18-19.
Even if all EU member states then sign the treaty by the end of the year as hoped, it will still be up to the member states to ratify it individually.
“Tuesday’s agreement signifies that all of the questions mandated to the legal experts had been resolved,” said a European diplomat.
“But that doesn’t ensure that this will pass” at the Lisbon summit, where the EU heads of state and government will be free to pose other questions outside of the mandate of the legal drafters, he said.
The reform treaty is being drawn up to replace the bloc’s moribund constitution which was scuppered by ‘no’ votes in Dutch and French national referendums in 2005.
Of the 27 EU member states only Ireland is constitutionally bound to hold a referendum on the reform treaty.
Seen as vital to streamline the workings of a union which has expanded from 15 to 27 member states since 2004, eurosceptics nevertheless deem the treaty as the EU constitution in disguise and a major step on a slippery path towards federalism.