EU parliament demands open debate on treaty change

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The European Parliament has told Germany, France and other states wanting to change the EU core treaty in response to the debt crisis that lawmakers will demand a "six-month" no-holds-barred public consultation.

"The European Parliament will insist on organising a Convention," parliament business chief Klaus Welle said, meaning that all 500 million people of the 27 EU member states can make their views heard.

The demand was issued at a meeting with EU ambassadors and seen by AFP Monday in an "encrypted" document circulated as Paris and Berlin begin talking about changes being agreed between an inner group of euro currency countries.

EU leaders are to examine Germany and France's proposals to change the bloc's core treaty at a December 8-9 summit, hoping to enshrine tough new budget rules in exchange for help for heavily-indebted nations struggling to stabilise their strained public finances.

British Prime Minister David Cameron, however, has already warned that if the Lisbon Treaty -- years in the making and almost wrecked by initial rejection in several referendums -- needs re-shaping, he will seize the opportunity to demand a repatriation of some powers given to Brussels.

Theoretically, Welle told the government representatives, the parliament "saw a priori no problem in creating a multi-speed Europe -- if this helps in advancing the European project" of post-WWII integration.

However, "if the European Parliament is kept aside, it is likely to come up with its own agenda -- in which case it would be very difficult to limit the scope of treaty change," Welle said, according to the document.

The EU parliament acquired full legislative powers for the first time under the Lisbon Treaty, which entered into force last year, and is eager to flex this new-found power in order to strengthen its hand further.

© 2011 AFP

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