Intergovernmental Conference

Intergovernmental Conference in Europe

Description of IGC (Intergovernmental Conference)

The Concise Encyclopedia of the European Union describes igc (intergovernmental conference) in the following terms: [1] IGCs are summoned whenever a new Community treaty is under consideration, the participants being ministers and senior civil servants of the EU member states, with the Commission in attendance (see more in this European encyclopedia). The calling of an IGCcreates a climate in which greater integration is taken for granted, only the degree of progress being left open for negotiation (indeed, the principle of ‘ever closer union’ and the doctrine of the acquis communautaire rule out reform of a non-integrationist nature). Up to and including the 1992 Maastricht Treaty an obsessive secrecy was always observed in the pre-meetings, on the grounds that diplomatic bargaining positions would be prejudiced by transparency. The IGC preceding the 1997 Treaty of Amsterdam was less secretive, although many key points were not exposed to democratic debate.

Since Maastricht, there has been an almost continuous process of constitutional discussion, with the arguments being increasingly brought to the attention of the media and the public. Thus the next Treaty (provisionally entitled the Treaty of Nice), anticipated for 2001, should give rise to better informed examination at the IGC stage (see more in this European encyclopedia). In the past, the obscurity of the subject and the hideous language of the Treaty texts were a guarantee of apathy among Europe’s electorates. But the EU now reaches deeply into people’s lives, and there are real concerns at the popular level over the impact of enlargement (the main item on the current IGC agenda) and over the extent of centralisation within the Community. Whether this will ease the position of those who disagree with the EU’s seemingly inexorable accumulation of powers remains to be seen.

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Notas y References

  1. Based on the book “A Concise Encyclopedia of the European Union from Aachen to Zollverein”, by Rodney Leach (Profile Books; London)

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