Pact does not require unanimous support of members


WIDER RATIFICATION:THE FISCAL treaty is an intergovernmental agreement signed by 25 of the 27 EU member states. Drawn up in response to Europe’s crippling debt crisis, it will force countries in the euro zone to abide by strict new budget rules or face penalties.

The pact emerged in January following an EU summit held in December at which British prime minister David Cameron vetoed plans to amend existing EU treaties to enable the enforcement of more extensive budget surveillance. The UK and the Czech Republic refused to sign the resulting fiscal treaty in March.

Because it is not a full EU-wide treaty, observers believe it should be possible to adopt it swiftly.

For the pact to come into force as planned on January 1st, 2013, it must be ratified by 12 of the 17 countries that make up the euro zone (Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain).

The pact differs from EU treaties in that it does not require the unanimous support of all member states. Ireland is the only member state to put the treaty to a referendum. All other euro zone countries will ratify the pact through their national parliaments. Of those, a majority will require a simple parliamentary majority.

France, Germany, Austria, Latvia, Slovakia and Luxembourg require a super majority in parliament. Greece, Portugal and Slovenia have ratified the treaty.