Page last updated at 15:57 GMT, Wednesday, 1 February 2012

UK government warned it will 'regret' EU treaty veto

The UK government has been warned it will "regret" refusing to sign up to the EU's new treaty on enforcing budgetary discipline.

Joseph Daul, who leads the parliament's centre-right EPP group, made the claim during a debate on 1 February 2012 on the recent summit of EU leaders.

The summit saw 25 of the 27 EU government sign up to the treaty, officially known as a "fiscal compact".

Mr Daul said the treaty was good for the EU - "it forces us to reconsider our bad habits over debt".

The UK and Czech governments refused to to sign the compact that aims to create closer co-ordination of budget policy across the EU to prevent excessive debts accumulating.

It spells out the enhanced role of the European Commission in scrutinising national budgets and empowers the European Court of Justice to monitor compliance and impose fines on rule-breakers.

European Council President Herman van Rompuy said the compact showed "a commitment to self-control and a commitment to avoiding debt".

"It is not a commitment to austerity," he added "but a commitment to funding our public finances through revenue rather than debt."

However Hannes Swoboda, the new leader of the socialist group, accused the European Council of "punishing countries that go into deficit, but not punishing countries with high levels of youth unemployment".

Mr Cameron has said he has "legal concerns" over the formal role of the EU institutions in the fiscal compact, such as the Commission and the Court of Justice.

Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso said the compact "upholds the primacy of European law" and added that he hoped it would be formally integrated into the Lisbon Treaty within five years - a move that could require unanimous approval from all EU leaders.

'Gauleiter' row

During the debate, UKIP leader Nigel Farage walked out of the debate, after clashing with parliament president Martin Schulz.

Mr Farage accused countries such as Germany for treating debt-ridden Greece as "a subsidiary of a failing multi-national, rather than a nation with a soul and a proud history", and said that claims there should be a Commission-appointed budgetary "tsar" overseeing Greece's economy were akin to a Nazi-era "Gauleiter".

German green MEP Reinhard Bütikofer then intervened to say that Mr Farage's speech was "an incitement to hatred", with Mr Schulz accusing him of nationalism, an accusation that led to the UKIP leader walking out of the debate.

Aside from negotiations over the compact, the EU summit was used to discuss ways to create economic growth and cut unemployment across the EU.

The EU will help to fund schemes to get young people into work or training in member states with the highest youth unemployment levels.

EU leaders pledged to speed up measures to develop the EU single market, including agreement on a common EU patent system by July, and new laws to create a functioning single market in services and energy.

The European Commission says €82bn of is available for countries to spend on projects to boost jobs and growth.

MEPs will vote on a resolution setting out their position on the summit at the daily voting session from 11am on 2 February 2012.

Useful links:

Democracy Live's guide to how the plenary sessions work.

A disclaimer on the use of simultaneous interpretations, on the European Parliament's website.

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