At a dinner with EU leaders on 8 March 2007, German Chancellor Angela Merkel presented a first outline of the ‘road map’ for the EU Constitution.
The German Presidency wants EU leaders to agree on a text for a new treaty by February 2008, which is likely to be shorter. The label ‘Constitution’ is also to be dropped, in order to avoid further referenda.
However, views on the new text still diverge among member states. Poland wants to maintain the current voting system in the Council, which grants the country more weight than under the Constitutional Treaty. Polish President Lech Kaczynski said: “The voting system is a serious problem indeed.” He added: “Every country backs the system most favourable to it.”
The German Presidency has so far kept its consultations on the Constitutional Treaty behind closed doors. However, it is seeking to reach out to citizens with the Berlin Declaration, which will mark the EU’s 50th anniversary and will give new impetus for a future treaty.
At a press briefing during the European Summit, Merkel said that there was a “complete agreement that the declaration should be addressed to the citizens of Europe and must be comprehensible”.
The German Presidency representing the Council, together with the Commission and Parliament will produce a text that will allude to basic values, refer to enlargement as an ‘enrichment’ illustrating the “triumph of democracy over dictatorship”, as well as to future tasks, such as climate change, competitiveness and social coherence, Merkel explained. She said that the European Social model should also figure in the declaration.
The presidency seeks to set up an Intergovernmental Conference (IGC) in June, where member states will decide on the future treaty.
The idea is to sign a new treaty at the December EU Summit under the Portuguese Presidency and allow 12-14 months for ratification, in order for the treaty to come into force before the next European elections in 2009.
Young European Federalist (JEF) President Jan Seifert said: “Merkel is right to press the pushing button but the Merkel method will lead to the same dead-end as the last ratification process.”