Monday, 28 May 2007

”Europe needs a deal”

To move on, Europe needs a deal, is the conclusion of Hugo Brady and Charles Grant of the Centre for European Reform.

Their policy brief “Why treaty change matters for business and for Britain” looks at the treaty reform the European Council is going to discuss in June.

Brady and Grant state that business should feel broadly satisfied with the way the EU is developing. However, treaty change is not an unnecessary distraction. Business in general, and the British in particular, have a strong interest in Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, striking a deal on a new treaty at the Brussels summit on June 22nd 2007.

British businesses have a clear interest in efficient EU institutions and procedures.

Outside direct business interests, the authors point out two areas where European Union institutions and procedures work poorly: foreign policy, and justice and home affairs.

Among the EU’s interior ministries, there is a growing realisation that international co-operation is essential in the fight against organised crime, illegal immigration and terrorism, but decision-making is hampered by unanimity.

A second area is the Common Foreign and Security Policy, where the rotating presidency and the split between the High Representative and the Commission pose serious problems.

If there is no treaty change, the authors see serious strategic damage for the EU, in three ways:

· For many countries treaty change and enlargement go hand in hand, because further enlargement without reform would weaken EU institutions, so they might block the enlargement process.
· A British veto on treaty change would lead to a loss of British influence. The creation of vanguard groups would gain momentum, and Britain would be marginalised.
· The Union would become less able to deal with its external challenges, and it would become more introspective.

The Union needs to strike a compromise on treaty change, and then move on to deal with the issues that matter, is the message of Brady and Grant.

Ralf Grahn