European Parliament, Brussels - 8th February, 2011
Mr van Rompuy, one thing we can agree on is that treaties have dominated the history of this Union. Lengthy processes, solemn ceremonies, and then a new body of law and more power for the centre.
But of course there have been one or two problems, public opinion being one of them, and occasionally electorates voting against treaties, but none of that's mattered, you've got round all of that.
But Mrs Merkel has had a real problem hasn't she? Because article 122 of the treaty has been used for the bailout funds for Ireland and for Greece and it's pretty clear to everybody that actually the treaties didn't allow this, that it was illegal, and we all in this room know that.
So in the face of the four German professors taking her to the [Federal Constitutional] Court in Karlsruhe, she's asked you to change the treaty and that over the course of last week is what you've decided to do.
You have now established a permanent stability mechanism. Now that word in itself doesn't inspire much confidence to me and I think all you're doing is reinforcing failure and delaying the inevitable breakup of the euro. But nonetheless you've decided to change the Lisbon treaty.
Well there's another challenge to the treaty coming up. And you may not have heard, but in the UK in the last couple of weeks there's been a huge row over a European Court of Human Rights judgement saying that we should give prisoners the vote.
Now perhaps unsurprisingly the mass of the British public are totally opposed to the idea that prisoners should get the vote, and surprisingly Members of Parliament now feel the same way...
Now wait for it, it's coming Mr Schulz, I promise you.
Members of Parliament are feeling the same way. And there's going to be a free vote in Westminster on Thursday night at which it would appear an overwhelming majority of British MPs will vote against the idea of prisoners being given the vote.
Now this will in fact pose the first ever direct challenge from the British Parliament to an EU treaty. Because, of course, as part of your beloved Lisbon treaty article 6 clearly states that the EU should accede to the European Convention.
Now of course that accession hasn't as yet been completed. So Mr Cameron could of course come to your next meeting and ask, like Mrs Merkel, for you to change the treaty, though I doubt he'll get much success.
Therefore the Lisbon treaty is about to be re-opened in Britain and a referendum in the UK will be the only solution to ignoring the settled will of the British Parliament. And I thought this afternoon, I'd be the first to share the good news with you.