THE GERMAN GOVERNMENT is reportedly seeking agreement among European Union member states to begin work on a new EU treaty enshrining budget rules across the continent.
News magazine Der Spiegel reports that Angela Merkel’s cabinet ministers and regional heads of government are seeking agreement to establish a convention which would “work on a new legal foundation for the EU”.
The report says the move is supported by a majority of the members of the so-called “future group” – an informal forum of ten EU foreign ministers which includes Germany’s Guido Westerwelle.
Der Spiegel says the report would see the extension of some of the principles contained in the Fiscal Compact and giving them a firm, unquestionable basis within the EU’s founding treaties.
This would include giving the European Court of Justice the right to monitor the individual budgets of member states, and to punish what Germans occasionally call ‘deficit sinners’ – countries which do not meet the overspending limits set down for them by Brussels.
Ireland among the obstacles
The report also notes, however, that Ireland would be resistant to the idea – as it would trigger an automatic referendum on approval, even though the Fiscal Compact was approved only three months ago – while Poland also opposes it, believing no consensus is possible.
Another potential obstacle is the proposed timing for the new treaty talks: Germany says it wants an agreement on the date for the convention to be agreed at the European Council summit on December 13 and 14.
This could prove difficult – because that meeting will come just two weeks before Ireland assumes the presidency of the European Council, meaning Enda Kenny’s government would be asked to host a convention it has little interest in.
Germany had already sought to have the Fiscal Compact principles enshrined in a full EU treaty, but the vetoes of the United Kingdom and the Czech Republic meant the deal was limited to the status of an international agreement between 25 of the 27 current member states.
The final text of that deal, however, did include a provision that participating countries would seek to adopt its terms into full EU law, though they gave themselves five years to do so. Germany’s move may therefore be seen as a mere fulfilment of this pledge.
AP said Angela Merkel’s office had not responded to requests for comment this afternoon.