Wednesday, December 19, 2007

EU In the News! Ignore at Your Peril.

Last Updated: 17/12/2007 21:15
Hungary ratifies EU reform treaty

Hungary became the first of the 27 European Union countries to ratify the bloc's new reform treaty in a parliamentary vote tonight.
Brussels names first 'EU ambassador'
Justin Stares in Brussels
Last Updated: 2:55am GMT 17/12/2007

Brussels has appointed the European Union's first "ambassador" more than a year before the EU Reform Treaty comes into force, The Sunday Telegraph has learned.

The powerful dual role will involve Belgium's Koen Vervaeke representing both the European Commission and the EU's 27 member states in Africa.

The position is part of a diplomatic corps created under the treaty signed by Gordon Brown in Lisbon last week amid claims by Eurosceptics of a betrayal of Britain's national interests.

Brussels chiefs have pressed ahead with Mr Vervaeke's appointment before any countries have begun ratifying the treaty, which is scheduled to come into effect in 2009.

Critics have accused the commission of riding roughshod over the ratification process,

Last Updated: Thursday, 13 December 2007, 17:19 GMT
EU leaders sign landmark treaty
The treaty was signed at Lisbon's historic Jeronimos monastery
EU leaders have signed a treaty in the Portuguese capital, Lisbon, that is expected to greatly alter the way the 27-nation body operates.
The treaty creates an EU president and a more powerful foreign policy chief.
The document, signed at a ceremony at the city's historic Jeronimos Monastery, also scraps veto powers in many policy areas.
It is a replacement for the EU constitution, which was abandoned following French and Dutch opposition.
EU leaders insist that the two texts are in no way equivalent.
But the Lisbon treaty incorporates some of the draft constitution's key reforms, and several governments face domestic pressure over the document.

Creates new European Council president
New foreign policy supremo to increase EU profile
Commissioners reduced from 27 to 18
Removes national vetoes in around 50 policy areas
Voting weights between member states redistributed
No reference to EU symbols such as the flag and anthem

Treaty faces referendum in Ireland and must be ratified by all other EU parliaments
In a speech before the signing, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso called on European leaders to use the treaty to make freedom, prosperity and solidarity an everyday reality for all European citizens.
"From this old continent, a new Europe is born," he said.
Portuguese Prime Minister Jose Socrates, whose country holds the rotating EU presidency, said the treaty would create a more modern, efficient and democratic union.
"The world needs a stronger Europe," he said.
The leaders signed the treaty, translated into the EU's 23 official languages, using specially engraved silver fountain pens as a choir sang Beethoven's Ode to Joy.
UK signing
UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown signed the treaty later in the day after missing the ceremony, citing a prior engagement in the British parliament.

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