Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Treaty Changes: No referendum

That's the beauty of the Simplified Revision procedure. And the weakness of our government. This is the statement from the European Council tonight in preparation for tomorrow's meeting.
On the basis of a report from the President, the European Council will discuss a limited treaty
amendment for a permanent mechanism to safeguard the financial stability of the euro area.
The mechanism will replace the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) and the European
Financial Stabilisation Mechanism (EFSM), which will remain in force until June 2013. Activation of the permanent mechanism, in the event of a risk to the stability of the euro area, will require mutual agreement of the euro area member states.

The treaty change would involve revising Article 136 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the
European Union by adding a paragraph under which member states whose currency is the euro may establish amongst themselves a stability mechanism to safeguard the stability of the euro area as a whole and stating that the granting of financial assistance under the mechanism will be made subject to strict conditionality.
Britain's position is made explicit in this piece in the FT this evening,
The UK was also causing some pre-summit concern because of their backroom efforts to clarify that non-euro countries would not be involved in any future eurozone bailouts. But diplomats said Britain has dropped a push to get such clarity into the treaty language.

Instead, Prime Minister David Cameron appears ready to settle for a clear statement from the leaders that an EU-wide fund, like the €60bn portion of the current bail-out system which is supported by the EU’s own budget, will never be created again once the temporary fund winds down in 2013.
The problem with this, as anybody who has watched Brussels and the Council over the last few years (something that seems to have escaped the current crop of Tories), he has swapped something solid, something legally defensible "clarity in the treaty" for something indefinable and essentially worthless, "a clear statement from leaders". He is a politician who knows what it is to dissemble to his own people, see his "cast iron guarantee" so why would he trust other country's politicians?

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