What did the EU agree at its 'make-or-break' summit?
Amid the fog of terminology, draft and final conclusions and annexes, not to mention allegations and denials by EU polticians over the past 24 hours, EUobserver tries to make sense of what the summit actually agreed.
There are a lot of details in this article regarding this epic summit - below are just a few:
Also known as the "fiscal compact" and containing "debt brakes" and "golden rules", the intergovernmental treaty is to be agreed by March 2012 "at the latest."
It will cover all 17 euro-using countries plus Latvia, Lithuania and Poland. Bulgaria, the Czech republic, Denmark, Hungary, Romania and Sweden are to check with national parliaments if they should join. The UK - sensationally - is staying out.
The European Commission will carry a big stick: it will look at national budgets before national MPs and make demands. It will also be able to parachute in teams of budget inspectors to national capitals and push countries to apply for bail-outs even if they do not want to.
Countries which breach a three percent deficit limit will face sanctions at EU level
Countries must introduce a 'debt brake' into their constitutions or at an "equivalent" legal level, requiring balanced budgets, which are defined as not exceeding deficits of 0.5 percent of GDP.
For the meaning and significance of this summit we turn to this article:
Britain and the European Union - continuity or rupture
As with all previous EU treaty revisions and negotiations, the devil is in the details - furthermore, it remains unclear how an intergovernmental treaty will work in practice alongside existing EU frameworks.
If the fiscal compact is agreed by early next year, then the summit may be seen as an important step forward in the integration process, perhaps even an historic leap towards ‘an ever closer union’
At first glance, the outcome indicates more power, not less, for the Council of Ministers, at the expense of the Commission
In other words, more centralized power. More below:
So at last weeks summit, staring down the possibility of a continent-wide sovereign debt crisis, the majority of EU leaders agreed to greater convergence in their economic and fiscal policies, all of which implies a significant loss of national sovereignty.
Which is exactly what many prophecy watchers predicted.
UK left out as 26 EU countries to draft new treaty
The 26 have agreed to greater budgetary surveillance by Brussels, stronger fiscal discipline as well as to automatic sanctions for misbehaving states.
Mr Cameron gets it right:
For his part, Cameron justified the situation on Friday morning by saying that the 26 "are having to make radical changes including giving up sovereignty."
Indeed. Everything is right on schedule.