Presidency stresses ‘social face’ in Berlin Declaration

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Emphasising the EU’s social dimension in the context of the EU’s upcoming 50th anniversary declaration, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier presented the presidency’s view to Commission and Parliament leaders on 14 March 2007.

“Europe stands for a social model based on economic competition but reconciling that competition with social and ecological responsibility,” Steinmeier emphasised. He went on to say: “The EU has a social face and the social dimension is something that we want to underscore in the Berlin Declaration.”

The Constitutional Treaty was rejected by voters in France and the Netherlands in a 2005 referendum. In particular, the French referendum was said to have failed because of the lack of social elements included in the text.

The German foreign minister told the assembly that the presidency drew confidence from the success of the Spring Summit and will now try to give a boost at the Berlin Declaration.

Steinmeier emphasised that the presidency has been listening to what the people expect from the EU. He said: “If we want to win the trust of the people of Europe, then we have to provide practical evidence that European unity makes sense for them.”

Parliament President Hans-Gert Pöttering said: "The European Parliament should under no circumstances call into doubt our commitment to the constitutional treaty. We are in favour of the Constitutional Treaty including the section on values and we want it to see the light of day." He added: "Europe needs a rebirth; we now need to find the courage and the will to meet the challenges of the 21st century."

Communication Commissioner Margot Wallström underlined the Berlin meeting was "an important stepping stone on the path to a relaunch of the Treaty review to strengthen the institutions of the EU". She added: "Enlargement has added purpose and dynamism to our work and I am convinced it can continue to do so."

The Berlin Declaration on 25 March 2007, put forward by the Council, the Parliament and the Commission, will mark the EU's 50th anniversary, but is also expected to give fresh impetus to the stalled constitutional debate.

The two-page declaration will comprise four parts. The first one outlines the EU's historic achievements in terms of freedom, prosperity and solidarity. 

The second element will draw attention to the fundamental principles of the "community method", such as equality of member states, transparency and subsidiarity. 

The third chapter will refer to the fundamental values, upon which the EU is based, especially the inviolability of human dignity. 

The final section of the declaration will be devoted to the challenges of the future, such as fighting climate change, foreign and security policy, internal security, civil liberties and a socially responsible society.

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