BRUSSELS (MNI) – EU governments will begin discussions Friday on
amendments to the draft fiscal compact treaty put forward by the Council
of the European Union in December, EU officials said.

Among the amendments is a beefed up enforcement role for the
European Commission, the officials said.

Under the original draft, only countries that sign up to the new
treaty would be able to take each other to the European Court of Justice
to ensure that the fiscal discipline rules are enforced. A proposed
amendment contained in the new draft would allow the Commission to take
countries to court.

Granting such enforcement powers to the Commission, however, may
prove controversial. The Commission itself said in December that it
could not play such a role in the new inter-governmental agreement
because it cannot act outside the EU treaty.

Another amendment proposed by EU governments following discussions
last month would raise the number of countries that must ratify the
fiscal compact before it comes into effect to 15 from just 9 as
originally proposed.

The European Commission has also proposed that the fiscal compact,
which will require signatories to implement balanced budget rules and
introduce near-automatic sanctions for governments that break the
Eurozone’s 3% fiscal deficit limit, be incorporated into EU law within
five years.

EU governments will hold weekly meetings in Brussels with the hope
of rapidly concluding negotiations on the text so that an agreement can
be reached at an EU leaders’ summit in March.

–Brussels bureau: +324-9522-8374;

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