Time to move on – The EU after the German Presidency

DISCLAIMER: All opinions in this column reflect the views of the author(s), not of EURACTIV Media network.

In this July 2007 online dossier, Marco Overhaus and Hanns W. Maull of Deutsche-Aussenpolitik.de take ”a first systematic stock” of Germany’s EU Presidency – which ended on 31 June 2007 – by comparing the ”stated goals before the presidency” with ”the actual results at the end of the term”.

The dossier ”shares the generally positive assessments” about Germany’s tenure at the EU helm, but also points to issues that ”will remain on the EU’s agenda”, such as foreign and security policy. 

Maull and Overhaus state that there is often ”one single, defining issue which ultimately determines failure or success”. In the case of the German Presidency this ”clearly was the deadlock concerning the European Constitutional Treaty”. Thus, Germany’s Presidency has been hailed as a ”great success” by national and international political opinion.

The authors state that in ”solving the Constitutional Conundrum”, the German Presidency ”has achieved more than it had originally envisaged and promised”: besides preserving the political substance of the Constitutional Treaty and drawing a ”road map”, Germany reached a compromise that retains most of the substantial reform proposals of 2004 and rejects symbolic elements and wording such as ”Constitution” and ”Foreign Minister”. This was achieved by the diplomacy of Chancellor Angela Merkel and Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, believe the authors.

However, they claim that these achievements were ”only a precondition” and now the EU needs to solve its ”real problems” such as a ”truly” common energy policy, the future of EU enlargement, the Doha Round and international conflicts (e.g. Kosovo, Afghanistan, Iran). If the EU wants to resolve those problems in a satisfactory way and if it wants to be seen as an international actor that counts it will have to assume a higher profile than it has done thus far.

In comparing the Presidency’s stated goals and its respective achievements, Overhaus offers a detailed analysis of its results, in areas including treaty reform, the Berlin Declaration, bringing the EU closer to its citizens, a common energy policy, climate protection, internal security, immigration policy, and enlargement, as well as trade policy and strategic partnerships.

The article concludes: ”The German EU presidency was successful in helping break the constitutional deadlock” and has thus paved the way to ”deal with the long list of economic and political problems, within and beyond its own borders (…) – it is now time to move on.” 

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