Main Features of the New EU Treaty

Treaty Not Constitution

The text agreed at the Brussels summit no longer refers to a constitution, but to a new treaty. It shall not make references to the EU flag and anthem.

Voting System

The voting system of the EU will change. The principle of the “double majority” shall be introduced in 2014. However, for a transitional period until 2017, a member state may request that a decision be taken on the basis of the existing system. The new voting system requires a majority of 55% of member states and 65% of the population.

Majority decisions

In order to accelerate legislative procedures, from 2009 onwards, decisions within the EU shall in most cases no longer be made unanimously, but by a qualified majority.

EU Foreign Minister

For the first time, the EU will have a foreign minister, who bears the official title High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. This office brings together the duties of the present High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy and the European Commissioner for External Relations.

EU President

The European Council shall have a chairman, who will hold office for two-and-a-half years. The Presidency of the Council of Ministers will rotate every six months as in the past.

Charter of Fundamental Rights

The Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, which was proclaimed in 2000, will become legally binding. However, it does not appear in the draft treaty as a text, but only in a reference. The Charter consists of 54 articles covering, among other things, human dignity, freedom, equality, solidarity and civil rights. The document is modelled on the European Convention on Human Rights.

Rights for National Parliaments

National parliaments in the EU can raise objections against legal acts of the European Commission if they believe national jurisdictions have been infringed. The European Commission must scrutinize its legislative proposals if half of the national parliaments demand it.

[Courtesy: Deutschland Magazine, Embassy of Germany, Kathmandu, Nepal]

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