New European Treaty?

I don’t have time to write about this in detail now but reports that Germany and France are pushing forward with the idea of an amendment to the Lisbon Treaty are an important development (news story here and a nice article by Arthur Beesley here). Apparently they want to use a new Treaty to formalise the sovereign bailout fund that is currently set to expire in 2013 and to formalise sanctions for states that break new EU budget rules.

These announcements appear to hijack what was an ongoing process involving the Commission and a task force chaired by EU President Herman van Rompuy. This process had just arrived at this package of significant reforms, which the accompanying press release had emphasised were “compatible with the existing Treaty of Lisbon”.

I’m pretty unenthusiastic about this. I don’t see why Treaty reform is required to formalise a sovereign bailout fund, when the thing is currently up and running without any Treaty change. The political sanctions element doesn’t strike me as desirable. And the whole idea seems to underestimate the complete lack of appetite of the European public for more Treaties and referenda.

Given that this would require a referendum in Ireland and what would be on offer would be the possibility of political sanctions for Ireland, one might imagine the people who worried about us potentially losing a Commissioner under Lisbon might also get a bit excited.