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Merkel's 12 Points of dispute on the EU Constitution

by DoDo Thu Apr 19th, 2007 at 06:18:30 AM EST

After chancellor Angela Merkel of present EU Council President Germany brought it back on the agenda, the debate on the future of the EU Constitution is in full swing.

Our governing heads largely debated the issue behind closed doors, and the public debate focused on how to get adopted what is salvaged of the Constitution, not on what will be kept. While the tendency is towards avoiding referendums (thus avoiding democracy), after the meeting of Merkel and Czech Eurosceptic President Václav Klaus yesterday, we now know that Merkel wants to shift debate to the content by asking for governments' positions on 12 elements of the original Constitution.


A summary of the precedents: after 18 of 25+2 states ratified the Constitution, but it failed referendums in France and the Netherlands, the following positions were taken up by our various once and future governing heads:

  1. Let's forget the Constitution altogether, I fear my voters! This was attempted by the Bliar government earlier this year, and was the implicit position of the silent-on-the-matter Dutch government until recently.
  2. Change the Constitution or else! This is the steadfast position of the current nationalist-Eurosceptic Polish government.
  3. We don't need no stinking Constitution! This was the position of Thatcherite-Eurosceptic Czech President Klaus until recently.
  4. Accept the Constitution as is or go away! This has been the position of EU-federalists chiefly in France and Germany (the latter including foreign policy experts of the SocDem SPD and neolib FDP), and also of some anti-French neolibs and classic conservative critics of France.
  5. Let's keep the most important parts and adopt them by parliaments or government decrees. This idea was floated earlier by various quarters in the Benelux and Germany, and Merkel pushed this, but was attacked for it in the EP.
  6. Let's keep the most important parts and call it a Treaty, and adopt them by parliaments or government decrees! This is the new official proposal of the Dutch government, but it also seems to become the new consensus opinion of some of the other naysayers: Bliar recently endorsed it, the Czech government (a right-wing one whose leading party is Klaus's) adopted a similar position paper as its official position. French Presidential candidate Nicolas Sarkozy advocates the same -- even earning positive noises from some in the Franco-German Friendship Society, what's more Luxemburg's foreign minister also advocated this position in an interview with Austrian paper DER STANDARD.
  7. Let's involve more provisions and dare more democratic input! Of the heavyweights, solely French Presidential hopeful Ségolène Royal supports this, the 18 who already signed are negative.

Presently, there are a lot of bilateral meetings on the subject. We recently discussed the joint declaration of Bliar and Dutch PM Balkenende. Bliar was visited by Hungarian PM Ferenc Gyurcsány yesterday, who then characterised the Dutch-British thrust as a positive move that seeks solutions. On the Merkel-Klaus summit, also yesterday, Fran quoted in the Salon:

Germany more realistic on EU treaty problems, Czech president says - EUobserver.com

Czech president Vaclav Klaus has praised the German EU presidency for having a new attitude for dealing with the disputed EU constitution, shifting from pressure on deadlines to a debate about content, with Berlin issuing a hit list of 12 controversial treaty elements to clarify national positions.

Speaking to Czech journalists after a three-hour discussion with chancellor Angela Merkel and German ex-president Roman Herzog at Mesenberg castle near Berlin on Tuesday (17 April), Mr Klaus said Germany has understood that there will be no breakthrough over the EU charter during its six-month term at the bloc's chair.

"There's a qualitative shift going on," Mr Klaus said according to CTK agency, adding that Germany seems to realise that substantive changes in the functioning of the EU are more important than a timetable for solving the constitutional impasse.

The question marks over the future fate of the EU constitution arose after French and Dutch citizens rejected the draft charter in 2005 referendums, even though 18 EU member states have largely ratified the document.

Merkel's cleverest move was to have ex-president Roman Herzog at the summit. Herzog recently criticised the Brussels Bureaucracy for drawing 'too much law-making' into its own competency, endangering democracy -- something Klaus noted enthusiastically, moving him to write a letter to Herzog. But Herzog is not a true Eurosceptic, so I suspect Klaus found himself 1:2.

Note that with the government position paper and Klaus finding positive words, the Czech Republic in practice caved in, leaving Poland alone with a veto threat.

Merkel wants debate on the contents of Constitution v2.0 by the next EU summit in June. But those 12 points aren't to be found on any prominent place on German governmental homepages, nor on German internet news sites.

Democracy unerwünscht.

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If Detlef or Turambar or jan or Saturday or dvx could dig up those 12 points somewhere, I would be extremely grateful. But I found no word on it on www.bundeskanzlerin.de, www.bunesregierung.de, www.auswaertiges-amt.de,  nor details on news sites

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Apr 19th, 2007 at 06:22:17 AM EST
I'm afraid I have to admit defeat. The closest I can find (and it's not close at all) is this:

Merkel plans new suggestions on content of EU constitution

German Chancellor Angela Merkel plans to make suggestions on the content of a new EU constitution when it presents a roadmap for adoption of the stalled treaty in June, a government spokesman said Wednesday. The chancellor had won the approval of Czech President Vaclav Klaus for her plan, government spokesman Ulrich Wilhelm said in Berlin.

The EU Observer seems to be the only outlet referring to "12 points"; not even the Czech outlets I looked at refer to this (and Klaus was purportedly talking to Czech reporters).

The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman

by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Thu Apr 19th, 2007 at 06:56:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
those 12 points aren't to be found on any prominent place on German governmental homepages, nor on German internet news sites

Maybe an issue to raise with our MEPs?

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Apr 19th, 2007 at 06:37:51 AM EST
Or a(n open) letter to Unsere Sehr Geehrte Bundeskanzlerin und EU-Ratspraesidentin.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Apr 19th, 2007 at 06:41:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If you throw together something, I can translate in the evening. Or I write it myself in the evening.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Apr 19th, 2007 at 07:43:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think there may have been a problem of wording. The EUobserver article first says "with Berlin issuing a hit-list" and then it says "prepared a list". I think the intention was never to "issue" it to the public.

A will try to write something tonight, but I think it needs to make reference to the Eurobarometer on the attitudes to the EU constitution as well.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Apr 19th, 2007 at 08:37:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Didn't make it, sorry.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Apr 20th, 2007 at 04:48:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
After you made what I should have, actually reading the first source, I think it is obsolete anyway. We aren't talking about an official announcement (as I believed) but a foreign newspaper's information.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Apr 20th, 2007 at 05:41:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The EUobserver article says
Prior to individual consultations with member states about their views on the way forward, Germany has prepared a 12-point checklist of controversial treaty items for which it is seeking clarification of national positions, according to Polish daily Rzeczpospolita.

The list includes the name of the treaty, EU symbols like the hymn and flag, voting rights and the proposal to create an EU foreign minister, with some countries, like the UK, the Netherlands and Czech Republic calling for all state-like elements to be dropped.

Prague and London also object to the Charter of Fundamental Rights being directly included in the new treaty. The Czech Republic is against the idea of a common "EU foreign minister" as well, while Poland would like to see voting system proposed in the EU constitution changed.

So nothing new or substantial:
  • The name of the treaty: whether or not it should be called a constitution seems to be important symbolically, and people have higher standards for a "constitution" than for a "treaty";
  • The anthem and flag have been there for ages and are not new, how can that be controversial?
  • The EU foreign minister: it seems people have forgotten the disastrous consequences of the EU being unable to have a common foreign policy during the breakup of the former Yugoslavia. Over the past few years people have complained that the High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy, the Commissioner for External Affairs and the Foreign Minister of the Rotating Presidency are two people too many to be at the head of foreign policy. I'm afraid this is just symbolic and about the "name".
  • Of course, the UK and Poland don't like bills of rights.
  • And Poland is still horse-trading on voting rights, which is partly what got us into this mess in the first place (the Nice summit)


"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Apr 19th, 2007 at 08:35:00 AM EST
Of course, the UK and Poland don't like bills of rights.

Czech Republic, not Poland.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Thu Apr 19th, 2007 at 12:31:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sorry, my bad.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Apr 19th, 2007 at 12:34:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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