World News

EU flying circus in Lisbon, Brussels on same day

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - European Union leaders will make an avoidable contribution to global warming when they fly to Lisbon to sign the new EU reform treaty on Dec. 13, then to Brussels to hold their next regular summit on the same day.

Portugal, which holds the 27-nation bloc’s presidency, was determined that the treaty to reform EU institutions agreed at a Lisbon summit this month should be signed on Portuguese soil and enter the history books as the Treaty of Lisbon.

Portuguese Prime Minister Jose Socrates floated the idea that the EU could save time, money and greenhouse gas emissions by holding the December summit in his country right afterwards.

But Belgium, home of the EU’s main institutions, was equally determined to enforce its right, won in the 2000 Treaty of Nice, to host all formal summits of the Union.

“The next summit must undoubtedly be held in Brussels,” Belgian caretaker Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt’s spokesman told Reuters.

The Portuguese, who never formally proposed the switch, gave in without a fight.

“There is an obligation to hold formal European Council meetings in Brussels,” a spokeswoman for Socrates said.

As a result, 27 heads of state and government and their retinues, plus the leaders of the European Parliament and the European Commission, will fly to both countries in a day.