German Chancellor Angela Merkel has exhorted European leaders to overcome internal problems in order to make the EU fit to face the challenges of globalisation, after an EU Summit in Berlin had agreed to institutional reform by 2009.
Speaking at the European Parliament on 28 March, Merkel said that EU leaders needed to “act decisively” on the world stage and avoid spending “too much time caught up in our own problems”, warning: “The world will not wait for Europe.”
She also renewed her commitment to presenting a road map for reviving the EU Constitution at the Summit in June, but said that there will be no ready made solution. “We will set out our objectives and will do all we can to achieve them,” Merkel told MEPs. She urged EU leaders to stick to the timeline laid out in the Berlin Declaration, to have institutional reforms in place by 2009.
Merkel encouraged the European Parliament to actively involve citizens in the discussions on the EU Constitution and proposed that the parliament organises “civil- society hearings” in order to bring the European public into the debate. She suggested that such citizen hearings could take place as soon as May, one month before the German Presidency presents its road map for the constitutional treaty to EU leaders.
Commission President José Manuel Barroso echoed Merkel’s call, saying that “by delivering results we create political momentum”. He stressed Europe’s need for a “treaty settlement” in order to face global challenges, such as climate change, energy security, migration and global competition.
On the issue of the constitutional treaty, Socialist group leader Martin Schulz said: “We shall not have the treaty that we wanted – but this does not mean that we shall not have one at all.”
Liberal group leader Graham Watson criticised the German Presidency for its secretive strategy on the Berlin Declaration. He said: “A text drafted in the catacombs of the Bundeskanzleramt and signed by the Presidents of the three main institutions should not have the temerity to open with the words ‘We, the citizens of the EU’.”