A simpler Europe. It missed !

In Nice yesterday the fifteen Heads of State opted for the minimal option: “Rather a bad agreement than a failure”.

(Archives B2) Citizens be reassured! Tomorrow the European thing, already quite incomprehensible, will be even more complex. If the objective of the French presidency of the European Union was to make it clearer, simpler, this objective has for the moment… failed!

« Europe does not have the means for its ambitions notes, bitterly, Belgian Foreign Minister Louis Michel. " I am surprised by the lack of European awareness of some around the table ". Belgium and Portugal have nevertheless tried to arouse European interest, by threatening, at the last moment, to veto the agreement. But in vain !

At 4:15 a.m. Exactly, after four days of arduous negotiation — a record! — the fifteen Heads of State and Government agree that the time for compromise has come. Around the large solid oak table, in this concrete bunker that is the “Acropolis” center of Nice, Jacques Chirac and Lionel Jospin breathe. They keep their treaty. The fifteen Heads of State and Government applaud each other. But as the European Commissioner, Michel Barnier, told us " it's not the great reform that I was expecting '.

This summit was, in fact, that of blockages. British Prime Minister Tony Blair has been deaf to lifting his right of veto on taxation and social security. The German Chancellor, Gerhard Schröder, reserved his on immigration and asylum. It is not for lack of concessions from the French presidency, particularly to Germany. This obtained most of its demands: a conference in 2004 on the reorganization of powers, a certain recognition of its demographic weight in the Council of Ministers, and increased power in the European Parliament.

For France, the addition to the European Parliament turns out to be bloody. Like most countries, France will lose deputies, exactly fifteen. Which in the light of the current representation, melts from one to four deputies the different groups: one for the national front, workers' struggle ...), two for the greens and the Udf, four for the socialist party. The only concessions to the European spirit, once the Treaty of Nice has been ratified. A vanguard of at least eight states may decide to move forward more quickly on a given theme if this "enhanced cooperation", in European jargon, does not jeopardize the other community policies.

The right of veto will no longer be able to stand for the appointment of the President of the European Commission. And an anti-democratic state will be able to have its suspenders pulled up by its peers, at a decision of 4/5ths. In the end, no one can help but reverse the favorite formula of Pierre Moscovici, Minister Delegate for European Affairs: " Rather a bad deal than a failure "...


Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).