France open to considering new EU treaty: minister

Reuters News
Posted: Sep 27, 2012 3:04 PM
France open to considering new EU treaty: minister

PARIS (Reuters) - France is open to the idea of a new European Union treaty to deepen integration if it is deemed necessary to improve economic governance in the bloc, French Minister for European Affairs Bernard Cazeneuve said on Thursday.

Cazeneuve was reacting to calls this month by Jose Manuel Barroso, president of the European Commission, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel for a new treaty to help the bloc overcome a sovereign debt crisis through integration.

"If, for greater solidarity, for more efficiency in the mechanisms of mutualizing debt or intervening in the markets, new treaties are necessary, then yes, we'll need new treaties," Cazeneuve told news web site Mediapart during a panel debate.

A new treaty could also help improve economic governance, give citizens' a greater voice in European affairs and better coordinate industrial and clean energy policies, he added.

In Germany, weekly Der Spiegel reported last month that Merkel wants an EU 'convention' to draw up a new treaty that would transfer some areas of national sovereignty, notably authority over budgets, to European institutions.

Merkel hopes a summit of EU leaders in December could agree a concrete date for the start of the convention on a new treaty, Der Spiegel reported.

Barroso, in a speech to the European Parliament, called for the bloc to be turned into a 'federation of nation states' in a sweeping call for countries to give up more sovereignty and move toward more integration.

France's position so far has been to achieve as much integration as possible within the confines of the Lisbon Treaty, the bloc's governing agreement, which entered into force in December 2009 after years of wrangling.

While Cazeneuve's comment hints at openness to discussion, any attempt to reform the EU's basic law is likely to take years and encounter opposition from states like Ireland, which require a referendum to approve key EU legislation.

(Reporting By Nicholas Vinocur)