Germany hopes to solve constitutional crisis

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Well aware of the difficult task that the German EU Presidency will face, Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier underlined the country’s willingness to find a solution to the institutional impasse.

Speaking at a press conference in Brussels, Steinmeier said that despite high expectations, the German presidency “will not work wonders, but take responsibility for the issues currently at stake”.

Steinmeier said that the constitutional crisis has become “the writing on the wall” for Europe. In order to resolve this crisis but also to ensure the EU’s capacity to act, Germany wants to move the constitutional process forward. 

The main goal of the German presidency will therefore be better to explain the European project to citizens in an accessible language, culminating in the “Berlin Declaration” on 25 March 2007 to celebrate the EU’s 50th anniversary. Together with the member states, the German presidency wants to set up a road map and the broad contents of a constitutional text, which will be presented at the June EU summit in 2007.

The aim is to have all member states ratify a new treaty before the European elections and the appointment of the new Commission in 2009.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said that he was well aware that those who have already ratified the constitutional treaty will not want to depart from the initial text, but said that Germany sees its role as that of an “honest broker” and wants to find a solution that will be accepted by all member states.

Luxembourg and Spain intend to launch an initiative to save the current text of the constitution and tabled an informal meeting of the “Friends of the Constitution” to take place in Madrid on 26 January 2007.

Finnish Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen told the European Parliament that he is against "picking the treaty apart", but does not want to wait for a Constitution, in order to improve decision-making. He pleaded: "If there was one thing that I could change in the Union here and now it would be to increase the number of decisions taken by qualified majority. It is the most effective, the fairest and indeed the best way of making good decisions."

Following the failed referenda on the European Constitution in France and the Netherlands in 2005, the EU has found itself in a crisis. So far, the "period of reflection" has not brought about a solution to the constitutional crisis that would satisfy all member states.

By 1 January 2007, 18 of 27 member states will have ratified the constitutional treaty.

  • 1 January 2007: Germany takes over the EU presidency.
  • 24-25 March 2007: 50th anniversary of the Treaties of Rome: “Berlin Declaration” will redefine the broad goals and values of the EU.
  • 21-22 June 2007: European Council: the German presidency will present a document that takes stock of the current constitutional crisis and proposes options for the way forward.

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