Still, the 27 people that were seated at the Council’s dinner table came with very different mandates to this summit. It is now official that debates need to continue in a reduced setting of the 17 Eurozone members. The head of the Eurozone, Jean-Claude Juncker, stated already yesterday that he does not see any danger in striving for a separate agreement of the Euro-countries. Some member states, as for example the United Kingdom and Hungary, have clearly confirmed that they do not have a mandate for fundamental negotiations, such as Treaty changes etcetera. Especially Britain seemed to be more and more isolated during last night’s talks, as David Cameron vetoed a revision of the Lisbon Treaty. It also means that the European Union is moving more and more towards the concept of a “two-speed Europe” that many consider a fallback for EU integration.
An additional worrying momentum was the fact that not all of the European banks passed the so-called “stress tests” that were created in order to check whether the European banking system was stabilizing. It is clear once again that fundamental problems of the European Union are surfacing in view of crisis: In order to create a sufficient safety net for the Euro and the European economies, a change of the Treaties would be necessary. At yesterday’s meeting of the European People’s Party in Marseille, French Prime Minister Sarkozy pleaded for more solidarity, discipline and control in the Eurozone. However, it is clear that this crisis with all its complexity cannot be solved with one big and final bang such as the ongoing summit.
Once more, European decision-makers need to prove that the EU is strong and willing enough to reach for a compromise rather than to strive for nationally-centered solutions. Treaty changes might be one of the solutions that need to be taken into account now and in the long run. In the meantime, Europe is hoping for some reassuring measures that will lead the way out of the crisis scenario. It remains to be seen if any new constructive solutions will be found in today’s second round of negotiations.
Anne K. Steven is based in Brussels and covers news on general European Affairs and EU energy policy in particular. She holds a tri-national MA degree in cross-cultural communication and cooperation from Saarland University in Germany, Metz University in France, and Luxemburg University in Luxemburg. Anne recently completed a second master’s in European Public Affairs at Maastricht University (Netherlands) while taking part in the European Commission’s trainee program at the directorate general for Energy. She is now working at a political consultancy in Brussels.