In case you have nothing better to do this weekend, here is a wonderful exercise to make sense out of the EU summit conclusions: Empty your desk, put all former EC/EU treaties on the table, also the constitutional treaty! Now, have a look at the draft IGC mandate (the presidency proposal before the summit) and compare it with the official summit conclusions. I can ensure you that you will need all other treaties to get a basic understanding of the new “reform treaty”. You will also get an idea what was discussed in Brussels in the last days (and nights).
It seems the EU summit produced one of these typical compromises. Most of the innovations of the constitutional treaty (which already was a suboptimal compromise) were saved. However, it is a big step forward for the EU!
But especially Polish and British demands have been included in the new compromise. The striking thing is that both countries already signed up to the constitutional treaty and watered down the provisions in the negotiations leading to the treaty. Both governments managed to flood the IGC mandate with additional footnotes, declarations and unilateral declarations….On the other side, France and The Netherlands (that actually had more reasons to demand changes…) were rather quiet.
The summit was also a diplomatic battle and a big theatrical show with late night veto threats and early morning compromises. The Kaczynski twins were in the centre of attention and managed to postpone the double majority system until 2017. However, there is the danger that the Polish strategy (non diplomatic language + lack of allies + constant veto threats) might backfire in the long run. At least the image of the Polish government is now totally ruined across Europe. Everyone already seems to wait for the next elections….
In sharp contrast to the Polish strategy, Tony Blair managed to get everything he wanted in a very diplomatic way, even though some of the ‘red lines’ were obviously designed to please the press and, of course, to enable Gordon Brown to get around a referendum!
Once again, Angela Merkel managed to achieve a diplomatic victory but for the first time she showed signs of annoyance (with Poland) and isolated Poland during the summit with the threat of calling for an IGC without Poland (this possibility was also mentioned on this blog). Ultimately, this seemed to have an impact on the twins…
To sum it up: business as usual in Brussels. Only that the result is not simple but complicated. Compared with the constitutional treaty, the reform treaty will be even harder to understand for non -lawyers. And last but not least, the debate about the constitution and the reform of the EU is finally over (at least for the next 5 years or so…).