No treaty change unfortunate but quite achievement: Van Rompuy

Head of the European Council said European Union (EU) leaders had "made the best of it" in strengthening the fiscal rules although their first option had been a full-fledged treaty change.

"It is unfortunate that we missed the opportunity to strengthen tougher fiscal discipline through treaty changes for the EU 27 nations," Herman Van Rompuy told a press conference after EU leaders' meetings.

Early Friday morning, the EU announced the establishment of a new "fiscal compact" with an overwhelming majority of countries led by Germany and France agreeing to forge ahead with a separate treaty, while the EU's third biggest economy Britain opted out.

"The EU has made a full-fledged treaty change its preferred option, but as there was no unanimous decision, we have to take another option. Originally the two options are evenly possible," Van Rompuy said.

Although it is unfortunate, "we have made the best of it. And it is quite achievement that not only the eurozone countries have joined the fiscal compact, but almost all other 10 non-eurozone EU countries want to participate in it," Van Rompuy said.

While admitting "the formula has some handicap," Van Rompuy said that "There is a clear political message even there is no full-fledged treaty change, that is, we will be as binding as possible" when enforcing the fiscal compact.

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said that "We preferred that the fiscal rules could bind all member states of the EU, but going through this way (fiscal compact) would be quicker."

The two EU leaders made the remarks merely an hour after Britain was singled out as the only EU country opposing the fiscal compact.

Referring to the compact based on inter-governmental treaties, "23 for sure, another three would ask their parliament, and one is against," President of the European Parliament Jerzy Buzek said at a separate press conference.

"Certainly one member state wouldn't like to agree on the further integration," said Buzek, adding that it was now a "26 against one" situation.

[Source: Xinhua, Brussels, 09Dec11]

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