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Nosemonkey's EUtopia

In search of a European identity

The Berlin Declaration – whoops!

I know that as a good pro-EU type I should find this pathetically awful farce depressing, rather than amusing, but it’s tricky.

The Berlin Declaration, for those of you who are lucky enough not to know, is the agreement German Chancellor (and current EU president) Angela Merkel was hoping to get the leaders of all 27 EU member states to sign this weekend.

It is, at its most basic level, a brief statement of shared EU principles, combined with a commitment to the idea of reforming the EU by 2009 at the latest (and yes, it was indeed originally meant to be reformed by 2004 at the latest – shush at the back). Some – including the Murdoch Press – wanted to spin it as a mini-constitution, but that’s a load of abject nonsense, from what I can tell.

In any case, it looks like poor old Angela’s cunning little plan just ain’t going to happen, the eurosceptic Czech president Václav Klaus pointing out that he can’t be expected to sign anything he wasn’t consulted on, that references to the environment and climate change within the text are ill-conceived, and that he is not prepared to commit the Czech Republic to a 2009 deadline to rush through reforms.

The upshot?

Ms Merkel, conscious that a row with Mr Klaus would overshadow celebrations of the 50th anniversary of the Union’s founding Treaty of Rome, will not ask him to sign the declaration.

Her spokesman said she would sign the statement on behalf of all 27 EU members and hoped their leaders would support her. The declaration will also be signed by José Manuel Barroso, European Commission president, and Hans-Gert Pöttering, president of the European parliament.

So, far from becoming a new symbol of hope an co-operation, as she evidently hoped, Merkel’s Berlin Declaration looks set to be interpreted as an edict issued from on high without any consultation (from the European country with perhaps the least leeway to issue orders to anyone, after the last century), and counter-signed by the unelected head of the most powerful organisation in the union and a man who heads a parliament that still holds little real power.

They really have no idea about presentation at all, these people… I mean, how hard is it to predict the negative reactions to Berlin trying to issue unilateral orders to the rest of Europe again?

4 Comments

  1. I have a slightly different take on this on my blog. I think the problem with the three Presidents signing the declaration is not that Germany is pushing the others around and behaving in an authoritarian way, but that this would be seen as a Christian Democrat/EPP plot, given Merkel, Poettering and Barroso are all in the EPP.

  2. German involvement adds the final gloss on this, but it does indeed look terrible for the union to start trying to sign on behalf of national leaders. Really, really bad, even if it is happening in the land of the phrase, "Herren der Vertraege," because it symbolically casts doubt on that.

  3. Maybe your information is not up to date anymore. From this article (sorry it is in German) I conclude that Václav Klaus will sign as well, so the declaration will be signed by all 27 leaders.

  4. Ok, I guess you are right, but still it seams that now all countries support the declaration (whatever "support" means in that case).