clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

EU approves new charter but acknowledges flaws

European Union governments Thursday signed a new charter, calling it a milestone in uniting the continent while acknowledging its shortcomings in preparing for 11 newcomers.

"Let us raise our ambitions," Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker told the EU foreign ministers who signed the new treaty during a ceremony at Amsterdam's Royal Palace.He said the treaty, adopted at a June summit, did not go far enough in reforming the EU's arcane decisionmaking process to enable the group to absorb comfortably 10 Eastern European neighbors and Cyprus.

Consequently, the EU is looking at another round of reform talks in two or three years before it lets in new members.

Eleven nations are at the door, led by Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovenia, Estonia and Cyprus. Farther behind are Romania, Bulgaria, Lithuania, Latvia and Slovakia.

The first newcomers are unlikely to join before 2003 or 2004.

To take effect, the latest version of the treaty must be ratified by the legislatures of the 15 EU nations. This will take years.

Outside the ornate 17th-century palace, police clashed with about 100 anarchists on the Dam Square, arresting some and using horses to drive back others.

The anarchists, many sporting spiked hair, mohawk cuts and leather jackets, were driven off the square in the heart of Amsterdam. Protests by anarchists from around Europe, who say they oppose government institutions in general, also occurred during the June summit.

The new EU treaty lifts internal border controls and provides for closer police cooperation and EU-wide visa and asylum policies, except for Britain, Ireland and Denmark.

It also commits governments to joint employment strategies.

The treaty also makes it harder for individual nations to block foreign policy decisions.

The European Union was founded in 1957. Its founding treaty of Rome has been upgraded several times, each time concentrating more powers in the Brussels-based group.