Following their meeting in Brussels (12/6/03), the President of the European Council, Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis and his counterpart Guy Verhofstad expressed their hope for ‘a comprehensive agreement in the European Convention’.
As part of his tour of European capitals in preparation for the Thessaloniki Council, Mr Simitis held discussions with Mr. Verhofstadt on the European Convention, among others. Mr. Verhofstadt repeated his support for enhancing the powers of the Commission and for expanding the qualified majority decision-making system. Referring to the Intergovernmental Conference, Mr. Simitis noted that ‘precise details’ should be agreed upon in the Thessaloniki Council and stressed that the new Constitutional Treaty should be signed just after the 1st of May 2004. ‘The Intergovernmantal Conference will probably accept the compromise that will be achieved in the Convention’, he added.
Mr. Simitis and Mr. Verhofstadt agreed that each member-state should appoint 1 Commissioner, though the Greek Prime Minister recognised the dysfunctional nature of a 25-member Commission and welcomed the proposal of the Convention for a rotating, two-tier Commission.
Replying to a question on the implementation of enhanced cooperation, Mr. Verhofstadt supported the institutionalisation of the principle on defence issues, noting that if this does not happen, initiatives might be pursued outside the community context. Mr. Simitis observed that it would be better for enhanced cooperation to develop within the institutional framework of the EU.