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A compromise on the Lisbon Treaty on the Council table

(BRUSSELS2) The French presidency of the EU has put on the table of the Council a compromise capable of leading the Irish to engage in a new referendum before the end of the year. This is based on four main elements.

Irish exceptions

Ireland undertakes to ratify the Lisbon Treaty before the end of the mandate of the current European Commission (end of October 2009). And the Treaty of Lisbon is scheduled to enter into force by the end of 2009 at the latest. The 27 take into account the demands of the Irish people, in particular the maintenance of the "traditional policy of neutrality", the preservation of Irish constitutional rules on "the right to life, education and the family", the non-extension of the Union's competences in fiscal matters... A series of declarations will be made to ratify this type of provision. It is also not excluded that, by a unilateral declaration, Ireland decides not to participate in certain aspects of the European defense policy (such as enhanced cooperation).

The presidency of the councils

If the Treaty of Lisbon enters into force within a semester, the country which holds the Presidency of the European Council and of the Council of Foreign Ministers will continue to perform this function. It will be up to the next presidency "to take the necessary specific measures relating to the organizational and material aspects" in conjunction with the elected President of the European Council and the new High Representative to make the necessary adjustments. In the agenda adopted, the Swedish presidency will therefore be effective until 31 December 2009. And it will be up to the Spanish presidency to make the necessary adjustments. In fact, the rotating presidency could continue on certain subjects until June 2010.

Consequences for the new High Representative

The Union's super chief diplomat (according to the treaty, the High Representative is also European Commissioner and chairs the Council of Foreign Ministers) will therefore only chair the Foreign Affairs Council on 1 January 2010 - provided that have an agreement with the current (Belgian) presidency. Otherwise, he will not fully exercise this function until July 1, 2010 (at the end of the presidency in question).

No rotation at the European Commission

All the countries will keep their commissioner in the next Commission, and in the following ones until the day when we decide to review this system (a simple decision of the European Council will suffice). This allows Ireland to retain its commissioner. A general demand of the referendum campaign. NB: The Treaty of Lisbon normally provides for a reduction in the number of Commissioners to 2/3 of the States, but also the possibility for the European Council to unanimously review this figure, on the understanding of returning to one seat per Commissioner. If, on the other hand, the Treaty of Nice applies, the reduction is automatic, the number of Commissioners having to be lower by at least 1 than the number of States. This should be a powerful incentive for the future referendum campaign in Ireland. And it's a safe bet that the campaign revolves around this subject.

Three additional MEPs in the European Parliament

The number of MEPs will eventually increase to 754, ie 3 more than the Treaty of Lisbon. This change will take place with the application of the Treaty of Lisbon until the end of the legislature. In June 2009, the European Parliament elections will take place according to the Nice procedure (ie 736 deputies). Which means 72 deputies for France (ie 6 less than today). An addition of deputies will then be made to reach the figure of 754 deputies until the end of the 2014 legislature: ie 2 more for France for example. The figure will return to 751 for the next legislature (after 2014).

(Nicolas Gros-Verheyde)

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).