Sarkozy aims to revive EU pact this year
In an important speech delivered yesterday in Strasbourg, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who assumed the French rotating EU presidency at the begining of the month, outlined the timeframe he envisions for trying to save the Lisbon Treaty.
Sarkozy said that by the time of the European parliament elections next June, the issue needs to be settled so voters know whether they are electing MEPs under the Nice Treaty framework which currently exists or the new Lisbon Treaty framework. The Lisbon Treaty would make the parliament more powerful and give voters a greater voice in EU affairs.
President Nicolas Sarkozy of France on Thursday set a deadline of the end of the year for efforts to rescue an accord that was designed to enhance the European Union's place in the world but was blocked by a no vote in a referendum in Ireland.
Speaking in Strasbourg, Sarkozy said further delays would not be acceptable to voters who would elect a new European Parliament in June of next year, and who needed to know the rules under which that election would take place.
His comments suggest there is a relatively brief opportunity to salvage the accord, the Lisbon Treaty. If it has not been ratified by all 27 EU nations early next year, the new European Parliament will be elected and the new European Commission selected under the old rules of the Nice Treaty. That would demonstrate that the EU could continue to operate under its existing rules, thereby reducing the political pressure to adopt Lisbon.
"We owe it to our fellow citizens to know on what basis the elections are being held," Sarkozy told European lawmakers. "It will be either Lisbon or Nice."
Under Lisbon, the European Parliament would have greater powers and its composition would be limited to 751 lawmakers rather than the current 785. European members of Parliament from more populous countries would represent more people than those from smaller countries, and no country could have fewer than 6 or more than 96 members.