Parliament backed a limited Treaty change to allow the establishment of the European Stability Mechanism in a vote on Wednesday, one day before the summit where EU Member States are expected to endorse this new tool. MEPs were satisfied with the "positive signals" given by the Member States on bringing the intergovernmental mechanism closer to the EU framework.
MEPs have been criticising the original European Council proposal on the Treaty change as regards both the method used and the content, since neither one respects the "EU method" but is essentially intergovernmental. The two co-rapporteurs, Elmar Brok (EPP, DE) and Roberto Gualtieri (S&D, IT) have kept negotiating with the other institutions with a view to enabling Parliament to give a positive opinion on the issue.
"In the last few days our objectives have been achieved", said Elmar Brok at a committee meeting on Tuesday, adding "we made a contribution to ensure the Commission is involved". He emphasised that Parliament will also be involved in the process, as the Council and Commission will consult it regularly.
Co-rapporteur Roberto Gualtieri said: "Parliament will present an opinion that is well-balanced and covers the essentials", describing the future stability mechanism as an "intergovernmental wagon in an institutional train".
Parliament acknowledged the "positive signals" perceived in letters from the Presidents of the European Council and of the Euro Group as well as the Commissioner for monetary policy. In their letters, the two institutions note that the Commission will propose a regulation that will clarify the procedures under the mechanism and ensure consistency with the EU multilateral surveillance framework.
Furthermore, the role of the Commission is now clearly defined in the running operations of the mechanism, as requested by MEPs. The Commission will play a central role within the mechanism in assessing and analysing, as well as in making proposals and monitoring. Parliament will be regularly informed.
While endorsing the European Council proposal on the Treaty change by 494 votes in favour, 100 against and 9 abstentions, Parliament reiterated that "it would have been preferable" to comply with the Union method, a point also stressed in the opinion of the European Central Bank.
EU Member States leaders agreed at their December 2010 summit on a limited Treaty change to allow the establishment of a permanent mechanism to safeguard the stability of the euro zone. This "revision of Article 136" of the Treaty required consultation of Parliament, Commission and the European Central Bank.
Member States are expected to adopt the change formally at the Spring European Council of 24–25 March. Thereafter, the change still needs to be ratified by all 27 Member States. The target date for the stability mechanism's entry into force is 1 January 2013.