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EU heading for vital reform
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14:58, December 14, 2007

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The signing of the Treaty of Lisbon (also known as the Reform Treaty) on December 13, 2007 was the focus of global attention in the process of European integration. Then, what historical stage the EU, as a bellwether of regionalization process worldwide, has undergone and what part it has played on the global stage. On these questions, Li Yongqun and other People's Daily reporters have interviewed EU officials and relevant experts.

EU is undergoing major reform, Javier Solana, High Representative for the EU Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) and Secretary-General of the Council of EU told PD reporter Li Yongqun in an exclusive interview on Dec. 10.

Reporter: Twenty-seven member nations of the EU are expected to sign the "Treaty of Lisbon" on Dec. 13. Could you tell us how you understand the main connotations of the Treaty of Lisbon and what major significance it would bring to EU?

Solana: EU has to go on adapting itself to an environment with fast changes since economic globalization has posed new challenges for us, and new roles have appeared on the global arena. The enlarged EU needs new working methods, which have precisely been provided by the Lisbon Treaty.

EU rotary chairmanship will undergo some big changes. The term of the Chair is set to be for two and a half years as against only half a year to date. The power of the European Parliament will step up while the membership of the EU Commission will be reduced, and these constitute some of the contents for the new treaty.

Reporter: Some comments hold that the Treaty of Lisbon has brought new hopes for the political integration of EU, and how do you think of it?

Solana: Not merely hopes but reality. The treaty concluded on De. 13 indicates 27 member nations will work to implement the aspiration of joint economical and political plans, so as to better cope with new challenges brought to us by economic globalization..

Reporter: With the signing of the treaty, people will pay greater attention to the process of its ratification as some members are faced with general referendum and then how do you look at its perspective?

Solana: the "Treaty of Lisbon" has to be ratified by all 27 member nations. Most countries will go through parliament vote, and only Ireland will resort to public referendum. It is expected that the treaty will be ratified by all 27 member nations so that a new page will open the history of Europe.

Portugal assumed the rotary chair of the EU on July 1, 2007, and so Prime Minister Jose Socrates has been most pleased and relaxed. And he announced that he would spur EU to ratify the new constitutional treaty. He took the adoption of the new treaty as the "victory for Europe" of historical significance. Moreover, European Commission President Jose Manuel Durao Barroso is also a native of Portugal, and they coordinated each other so well.

Among the 27 member nations in the EU, there are both new members and old members and ones of heavyweight or lightweight. Poland, a new, lightweight member, once argued strongly for a revision of the EU voting rule that allocated votes to each member in accordance with the square root of their population. Afterward, it comprised and agreed to the idea of a "dual voting system".
Likewise, Czech, another new EU member, asked for more reversibility, with which an EU member alone has the right to demand the EU commission to withdraw a motion or bill. Such new member nations as Poland and Czech are so resolute and rigid mainly because they feared that their weak political and economic positiona would be marginalized.

On March 25 in 1957, two treaties were signed in Rome that gave birth to the European Economic community (EEC) and the European Atomic Energy Community – which were grouped together under the name of the Treaty of Rome. The Treaty set up a constitution for Europe. The process of European integration has delivered half a century of stability, peace and prosperity.

In early this year, EU invigorated the process of drawing up a constitution on the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Rome Treaty. At the EU summit in Brussels, capital of Belgium on June 23, EU leaders reached a roadmap agreement for a new EU treaty to replace the European Constitution and, on October 19, passed a new treaty, or the Lisbon Treaty at a non-official summit to replace the European constitutional treaty.

Through major reforms iniriRWS by the "Treaty of Lisbon" can greatly raise the EU decision-making capacity, media reports acknowledged, there is still a long way to go before it wins ratification of the 27 EU members.

Furthermore, the European integration is faced with such converging attacks from nationalism and economic globalization, noted PD resident reporter Zhang Niansheng in Belgium. In this retrospect, he said, France and Germany have indeed played a crucial role: German Chancellor Angel Merkel has come out with a "roadmap" with an attempt to rescue the European constitution, whereas French President Nicolas Sarkozy is working hard to persuade Poland and other members and to work closely with Germany so that the EU ultimately will rid itself of crisises.

By People's Daily Online

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