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Treaty change to allow eurozone stability mechanism raises concerns

The fact that the EU Treaty change proposed to allow Member States to set up a permanent mechanism to safeguard eurozone stability was an intergovernmental choice, rather than an EU one, prompted concerns among Constitutional Affairs Committee MEPs on Tuesday. The tight timetable for the proposed change also worried several MEPs.

Both co-rapporteurs on the issue questioned whether the method chosen by the Member States to establish such a mechanism was the right one. “Is this necessary constitutionally?” asked Roberto Gualtieri (S&D, IT), pointing out that “we are building a mechanism with a totally intergovernmental foundation, and not an EU mechanism”.

Elmar Brok (EPP, DE), shared this concern about the intergovernmental nature of the change, but observed “I don’t think it is possible for Parliament to change the text; nor do I think we can play the game of preventing the decision of the European Council in March, because of the emergency in the Member States and the effect on the markets”.

Setting a precedent?

Andrew Duff (ALDE, UK), felt that if the stability mechanism “cannot be created as part of the Union system”, then it would be preferable “that it is at least created on the presumption that in the end it is going to be integrated”.

Søren Bo Søndergaard (GUE/NGL, DK), underlined that his group had been the only one demanding a Convention to discuss the Treaty change and argued that “what we decide will predetermine the future”. Gerald Häfner (Greens/EFA, DE), also voiced concern about the chosen “fast-track” method and wondered whether the MEPs would be “facing this again and again”.

Support for European Council proposal

Several MEPs backed the proposed method and timetable, though often with reservations: “There is no alternative – the question is do we want a mechanism or not. I’ll pay that price”, said Vital Moreira (S&D, PT), who described accepting the intergovernmental aspect as “swallowing a bitter pill”.

David Martin (S&D, UK), and Íñigo Méndez De Vigo (EPP, ES), both emphasized the urgency of the issue, with the latter remarking that “when the European Council has speeded up the timetables, Parliament would give the wrong signal if we hindered this; we need to contribute to stability”.


The leaders of the EU Member States decided at their 16-17 December 2010 summit on a limited Treaty change to allow the establishment of a permanent mechanism to safeguard the stability of the eurozone. This “revision of article 136” of the Treaty requires consultation of the European Parliament, Commission and the European Central Bank.

Next steps

The Constitutional Affairs Committee will probably discuss the Treaty change in extraordinary meetings on 7 and 14 February. There is as yet no date for the committee or plenary votes, but the process is expected to be finalised before the European Council meeting on 24–25 March, where the Member States hope to adopt the Treaty change formally. Thereafter, it still needs to be ratified by all 27 Member States. The target timetable for the entry into force of the permanent stability mechanism is 1 January 2013.

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