Jon Worth, an EU observer and lecturer at the College of Europe, has insisted that Brussels is unlikely to pursue any reforms to the treaties which govern the bloc. This is despite moves by Commission president Ursula von der Leyen to open a discussion on the future direction of the European Union after Brexit. Mr Worth added that EU leaders are fearful any attempt to ratify reforms via public referendums would result in humiliating defeats as happened during attempts to alter the EU constitution in 2005.
20 years ago French President Valery Giscard attempted to champion treaty changes but his attempts ultimately failed after being soundly rejected by the voters of France and the Netherlands.
Mr Worth told Euronews: “His convention elaborated a European Constitution which was then voted down by the populations of France and the Netherlands in two referendums.”
He added the legacy of those referenda defeats has European leaders hesitant to reopen the treaty debates.
“And so the fear in Brussels is that if you open up that Pandora’s box of treaty change, then you have the danger that the treaty that you put forward would then be voted down again,” Mr Worth explained.
It comes as European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker broke ranks with Brussels to urge top EU officials to ditch the bloc’s “golden rule” on budget controls.
Jean-Claude Juncker has insisted the nearly 30-year-old Maastricht Treaty should be renegotiated so as to remove clauses which bind the bloc to a pro-austerity agenda.
This has set him against European Union leaders who believe strongly in the EU’s ‘golden rules’ regulating the bloc’s fiscal policy, which limits the ability of member states to borrow and spend. Mr Junker said issues such as employment and social welfare should now take priority over fiscal responsibility.
It would also provide legal force to the charter of Fundamental Rights and expand Qualified Majority Voting to all areas of the bloc, including ones which previously needed unanimity.
The Netherlands then rejected the idea of a new constitution too, despite Dutch politicians claiming the country was one of the greatest supporters of the bloc since it started.
Nine of the-then 25 member states had ratified the treaty, but this reluctance from the Netherlands and France threw the constitution into doubt
The ratification process was subsequently closed.