LISBON, Portugal – European Union leaders on Friday agreed on a reform treaty to replace their failed European constitution and give the 27-nation union a more influential say in world affairs, diplomats said.
The agreement came after the EU leaders resolved 11th-hour reservations to the treaty draft text by notably Poland and Italy, they said.
"With this new treaty, Europe has overcome an impasse that lasted for several years," said Portuguese Prime Minister Jose Socrates, who hosted the EU summit.
"Europe has emerged stronger from this summit, stronger to face global issues, stronger to take its role in the world and also to increase confidence in our economy and in our citizens," he told reporters.
The reform treaty — to be formally signed by the EU leaders in Lisbon on Dec. 13 — promises to accelerate decision-making so EU members can act more swiftly on global issues such as defense, energy security, climate change and migration.
The pact aims to achieve the same thing as the constitution that collapsed in 2005 when it was rejected in French and Dutch referendums: give the 27-nation union a more influential say in world affairs by translating its economic might into a bigger diplomatic punch.
While it lacks the constitution's most contentious elements — such as EU flag and anthem — it will give its foreign and security affairs chief a seat on the EU executive Commission with control over the EU's multibillion dollar aid budget and its extensive network of diplomats and civil servants.
There will also be a smaller, more efficient EU executive and an EU president — chosen by the EU leaders for five-year terms — to "facilitate consensus" and represent the union abroad. In the future an exit clause will make it possible for nations to leave the EU.
European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said he will work hard to explain the benefits of the EU treaty to an often skeptical European public.
"Our citizens want to see ... what Europe brings them in benefits to their daily lives," he said.