Some observers believed it could not happen, but the EU emerged with fresh impetus after the marathon discussions ending in the early hours of 23 June. Commission president Barroso welcomed the result: “reaching an agreement was a credibility test for the Union. This reform treaty proves that Europe has the capability to act.”
The EU leaders found solutions to a number of difficult issues. The new text will make the Charter of Fundamental Rights legally binding. The EU will have a High Representative for foreign affairs and security policy and a permanent president; other achievements include an increased role for national parliaments and a reduced number of Commissioners from 2014.
"It was very important to reach an agreement on a structure and a working mechanism that will equip the EU to meet better the challenges of the 21st Century" says commission vice-president Margot Wallström in her blog.
The ‘no’ votes cast by France and the Netherlands in 2005 have been heeded. An intergovernmental conference will now work out the ways in which existing treaties need amending to make a much bigger EU more efficient and democratically accountable at home and more effective in the world. A text is expected by the end of 2007.
The new treaty will have to be ratified by all member countries before the European Parliament elections in 2009. Once ratified, the treaty will come into force in 2009.
Statement by President José Manuel Barroso (3'53")
Extracts from the Presidency press conference (5'13")
Brussels European Council. 21/22 june 2007. Presidency Conclusions