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EU leaders agree to EU Reform Treaty text

[JURIST] European Union (EU) leaders reached agreement on the text of a proposed EU Reform Treaty [PDF text; EU materials] at a summit [EU materials] in Lisbon early Friday local time, working through last minute objections by Poland and Italy. Much of the summit focused on reservations by those countries; observers said that the treaty could have been defeated if they had refused to sign on. Polish President Lech Kaczynski had demanded that Poland receive more voting rights in the pact, and Prime Minister Romano Prodi [official profiles] had demanded that Italy get additional seats in the reformed European Parliament. Diplomats say the treaty will give the EU more clout by speeding up the decision-making process and thus allowing members to take a more active role in global issues.

The treaty text was preliminarily approved [JURIST report] by EU legal experts earlier this month. EU leaders reached basic agreement [JURIST report] on the treaty itself in June; it is, in effect, a cut-down version of the abortive European constitution [JURIST news archive]. The original draft constitution failed as it did not receive unanimous approval among all EU states. Voters in France and the Netherlands [JURIST reports] rejected the proposal in national referenda in 2005. Netherlands Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende [official profile] said last month, however, that Holland did not need to hold a referendum on the new treaty because it had "no constitutional aspirations." British leaders have also resisted calls for a national referendum on the new document, insisting that the treaty would not infringe on British independence. In June, then-UK Prime Minister Tony Blair said that the EU did not need a real or de facto constitutional treaty, and insisted that the reform treaty did not amount to an EU constitution [JURIST report]. The Guardian has more.

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