News in Brief, BB200709
New Inter-Governmental Conference: aiming for more efficient decision making?
In light of the problems encountered in 2005 during the process of ratifying the Constitutional Treaty, the European Council has decided to intensify the discussion on possible future reforms of the EU legal framework and identity. As a result, in June 2006, the future German Presidency was asked to draft a report tackling this issue.
This report, together with the work undertaken by the German Presidency, meant that the European Council, at its meeting on 21-22 June 2007, agreed to establish an Inter-Governmental Conference (IGC). The IGC was asked to draw up a "Reform Treaty", with a view to enhancing the efficiency and democratic legitimacy of the enlarged EU, as well as the coherence of its external activities.
Operational since 23 July, the IGC is due to complete its work before the end of 2007, so as to allow the resulting Treaty to be ratified before the European Parliament elections in June 2009. The Portuguese Presidency is willing to look for an agreement on 18-19 October at the informal meeting of heads of states and governments in Lisbon.
The reforms of EU Treaties undertaken by member states are always a crucial step in the European decision-making process. With regard to cooperation among member states at EU level, enhancing consistency and efficiency, or a difference in voting systems, can all have a significant impact on the EU legislative process. Areas where cooperation has been minimal up until now, due to a strong national interest in energy related issues, are particularly likely to be affected.
IGC developments should be followed closely.