By Matt Williams - 23rd June 2008
Parliament's president Hans-Gert Pöttering has reacted strongly to suggestions that he be excluded from some EU council summits.
Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi allegedly suggested that the president of the assembly only be invited to address EU summits when there are matters relevant to the European parliament.
But Pöttering angrily defended his right to appear at the meetings. "Ifanyone were to call that into question, he’d have a lot of trouble,with me for a start," he told journalists on Tuesday.
He also insisted that parliament is an important player in the EU and has genuine influence in shaping decisions. “We often hear that it’s a shame that the parliament doesn’t have the right of legislative initiative, but in actual practice the parliament does have that right.
“The commission more and more is doing what parliament is calling it to do. So de facto we do have the right of initiative,” he added.
Pöttering was speaking at a press conference with Slovenian prime minister Janez Janša on the results of last week’s European council summit.
He said that the summit had been carried out in a “spirit of disappointment”, and that it was now important to determine the reasons behind the Irish rejection of the treaty.
Janša added that one of the advantages of having the Lisbon treaty was that it would facilitate negotiations between the decision-making powers.
“Relations between institutions can be very complicated…it is very clear that strategic policies will be necessary to tackle the challenges of climate change and energy security. To do all this, we need to have the Lisbon treaty,” he said.