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 VÃ¡clav 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.
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 JosÃ© Manuel Barroso, European Commission president, and Hans-Gert PÃ¶ttering, 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?