LISBON 's Leading politicians from the Baltic States joined their European Union colleagues in Lisbon Oct. 18 to thrash out the details of the new European Reform Treaty which will shape the future of the EU and its institutions.
Estonian Prime Minister Andrus Ansip said the treaty contains all the important changes that had been agreed during work on the constitutional treaty of Europe, spokespeople for the Estonian government said.
Ansip observed that as a result of the changes, decision-making within the union will be "simpler, faster and closer to the citizen."
The prime minister referred to the increasing role of the European Parliament in the decision-making process in Europe as well as increasing possibilities for the parliaments of EU member states to participate in the work of the EU.
The treaty will also make it obligatory for member states to help each other in the event of a terrorist attack or a natural or man-made disaster. The new treaty also will allow the EU to play a more important and influential role on the world arena, the Estonian government said.
To increase the effect and visibility of the EU's external activities, a new office of High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy will be created. The holder of that office 's effectively the EU's colelctive Foreign Minister -will also be a vice president of the European Commission.
Plans are to sign the reform treaty during a meeting of the European Council on Dec. 13. After that it will have to be ratified by all the 27 member states. EU leaders have voiced the hope that the treaty will step into effect before the next elections to the European Parliament in June 2009.
Lithuania's President Valdas Adamkus applauded the agreement, calling it a "wise decision."
"Finally every EU country showed some will for EU reforms to be completed taking account of the suggestions. The EU now has a clear institutional organization with clear goals," Adamkus said.
In Adamkus's opinion, passing a new treaty will allow the EU to work with improved efficiency, and to focus efforts on such strategic issues as ensuring energy security.
The EU's current president Portugal said that this agreement closed the page of the crisis that struck the Community after Dutch and French voters rejected the Constitution proposal in referenda during 2005.