Daily Archives: December 16, 2010

We now have a full copy of the conclusions reached by the European heads of government. Not many surprises in there, but I thought I’d post an annotated version below for those interested in EU arcana.

1. The European Council welcomed the report presented by its President following up on its conclusions of 28 and 29 October 2010. It agreed that the Treaty should be amended in order for a permanent mechanism to be established by the Member States of the euro are to safeguard the financial stability of the euro area as a whole (European Stability Mechanism). This mechanism will replace the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) and the European Financial Stabilisaton Mechanism (EFSM), which will remain in force until June 2013. As this mechanism is designed to safeguard the financial stability of the euro area as a whole, the European Council agrees that article 122(2) will not be used for such purposes.

The interesting thing here is the last sentence. This is the language David Cameron, the UK prime minister, was seeking to ensure non-euro countries do not get sucked into another bail-out when the new rescue system goes into effect in 2013. Read more

We have just gotten our hands on the new treaty change language agreed to by the EU’s heads of government, and the change from the original language is very minor – meaning that efforts by Germany and the UK to get additional provisions included was successfully fended off. Read more

We have an agreement.

According to a senior European minister, the heads of government have broken for dinner after reaching an agreement on the language for changes to the EU treaty to create a new bail-out system for the eurozone.

We haven’t seen the language yet, but the minister said that it remains just two sentences. Clauses were inserted into both sentences, however, that toughened up the amendment a bit. But the changes fall short of the initial demands made by Germany to make explicit that the new rescue fund could only be used as a last resort. Read more

Leaders have finally arrived at the Justus Lipsius building, headquarters of the European Council, and have begun their deliberations over changes in the EU treaties and next steps in the eurozone crisis.

As we expected this morning, the main point of nervousness is still over how hard Angela Merkel will insist that changes in the treaty include tough language ensuring a the newly-created bail-out system only be used as a last resort.

Merkel seemed to hint that she wouldn’t push too hard – saying at a pre-summit gathering that she wanted only “very limited treaty change” - but officials at the sidelines of the summit said there was still much hand-wringing going into the main event.  Read more

Over at the Liberal Democrats’ huddle, everyone did their best to say as little as possible about the particulars of the EU’s new bailout fund. Read more

Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, was one of the last to arrive at the pre-summit gathering of centre-right leaders outside Brussels, but on the way in, she had some calming words to offer.

Some diplomats had feared Merkel would insist on new language to be included in the otherwise benign treaty amendment scheduled to be debated tonight, making the approval process more complicated.

But she told reporters she is backing “very limited treaty change”, a signal there will likely be little opposition from Berlin. Read more

Out at Belgium’s bucolic National Botanic Gardens, where centre-right leaders are having their pre-summit gathering, a hard, cold rain is keeping most heads of government away from the press. Read more

It is a pre-summit tradition in Brussels for the heads of state to divide up and huddle with their fellow partisan big-wigs for a few hours before the main event. The idea is that they are “coordinating their positions” – although one suspects they are probably trading gossip. 

The big excitement this afternoon will be at the gathering of the centre-right European People’s Party in a suburb outside Brussels. The expected attendees include the European Union’s heaviest heavyweights – German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi and Jose Manuel Barroso, the European commission president, to name a few.

Back in town – and just down the road from the Council building – a handful of Liberal Democrat leaders will congregate, including Ireland’s Brian Cowen, the Netherlands’ Mark Rutte and Finland’s Mari Kiviniemi. 

But one group has called off its pre-summit powwow this time around. That would be the Socialists. A party spokesman said the group had taken the decision because its leaders met just last week at their party conference in Warsaw. Instead, they will make do with a simple pre-summit conference call. Read more