13th Apr 2024

Prague and Warsaw brief Merkel on EU charter plans

  • Prague: Angela Merkel hopes to come up with a plan to salvage the constitution by the end of June (Photo: European Commission)

Prague will press for a substantially revised EU constitution that is easier to understand and takes "smaller steps" on integration and Warsaw's proposal will better reflect EU reality than the existing draft charter, German chancellor Angela Merkel learned over the weekend.

An exchange on EU affairs dominated Mrs Merkel's first official trip to the Czech Republic on Friday (26 January), with the German EU presidency keen to come up with a plan on how to salvage the European constitution, put on ice after its rejection by French and Dutch voters in 2005.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Get the EU news that really matters

Instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

The Czech Republic is one of nine member states that shelved their own plans for the new treaty's ratification, as the draft constitution needs unanimous approval by all 27 countries before it can enter into force.

After a debate with the Czech centre-right prime minister Mirek Topolanek, Mrs Merkel said she was content with "a very interesting framework for future detailed discussion," suggested by her Czech counterpart.

Mr Topolanek told journalists Prague favours a revised treaty which would be "more understandable for people" while clearly defining "which competencies the EU has and which fall to the national states," according to press reports.

The Czech president Vaclav Klaus, a well-known critic of the European charter, said he shared Mrs Merkel's view about the need to resolve the impasse surrounding the constitutional crisis.

But he argued it must be done in "small steps" and not with the current constitution proposal. "To be honest, I must say I think that the chancellor thinks it is possible [to save the current text]. So now the question is whether our views differ a lot or just a little," Mr Klaus said.

Warsaw to give clear answer in March

Just a day before Mrs Merkel's visit, Czech president Vaclav Klaus met with his Polish counterpart Lech Kaczynski, with both leaders expressing their scepticism about the chances for a revival of the existing EU constitution.

Their views came in contrast to the statement by 20 countries represented in a meeting in Madrid on Friday (26 January) who argued the substantial part of the charter should be retained.

Luxembourg Europe minister Nicolas Schmidt said the Czech and Polish opposition stand as "two voices against twenty" and they should not be "overestimated" adding "Europe can't make progress at the minimalist basis."

Polish president Lech Kaczynski announced on his website that Warsaw would unveil the full proposal on the constitution's revision in March, suggesting his proposals "would benefit the union but also reflect its current reality."

According to Polish media, two Polish "sherpas" - the president's appointees for constitution talks with the German EU presidency - Ewa Osniecka-Tamecka and Marek Cichocki are supposed to meet the German officials on Monday (29 January).

The bi-lateral meeting is part of a negotiation timetable suggested by the German chancellor under which member states would first debate a declaration to mark the EU's 50th birthday and later in February the charter's revision itself.

UK-EU deal on Gibraltar only 'weeks away'

EU and UK negotiators said that a new post-Brexit settlement for Gibraltar was just weeks away from completion following four-way talks in Brussels on Friday (12 April).

Ukraine's farmers slam EU import controls on food products

The paradoxical move to tighten EU import controls on agricultural goods from Ukraine, despite the EU's vocal support for Kyiv, has sparked criticism from Ukrainian farmers. Overall, it is estimated the new measures could cost the Ukrainian economy €330m.

MEPs give teeth to Parliament's anti-harassment training

With 15 votes in favour, nine against and no abstentions, MEPs agreed to introduce concrete sanctions for any elected office-holder who fails to complete mandatory anti-harassment training within the first six months of their mandate.


Calling time on Amazon's monopolism and exploitation

As Amazon's founder Jeff Bezos just reclaimed the title of the richest person on Earth, its workers cannot even take a bathroom break under the pressure of meeting inhumane performance targets.


The Bolsonaro-Orbán far-right nexus

Defeated far-right Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro has given various reasons for sheltering at the Hungarian embassy in Brasilia — none of them make sense.

Latest News

  1. UK-EU deal on Gibraltar only 'weeks away'
  2. Belgium declares war on MEPs who took Russian 'cash'
  3. Brussels Dispatches: Foreign interference in the spotlight
  4. Calling time on Amazon's monopolism and exploitation
  5. Resist backlash on deforestation law, green groups tell EU
  6. China's high-quality development brings opportunities to the world
  7. Ukraine tops aid list again, but EU spending slumps
  8. Who did Russia pay? MEPs urge spies to give names

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersJoin the Nordic Food Systems Takeover at COP28
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersHow women and men are affected differently by climate policy
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersArtist Jessie Kleemann at Nordic pavilion during UN climate summit COP28
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP28: Gathering Nordic and global experts to put food and health on the agenda
  5. Friedrich Naumann FoundationPoems of Liberty – Call for Submission “Human Rights in Inhume War”: 250€ honorary fee for selected poems
  6. World BankWorld Bank report: How to create a future where the rewards of technology benefit all levels of society?

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Georgia Ministry of Foreign AffairsThis autumn Europalia arts festival is all about GEORGIA!
  2. UNOPSFostering health system resilience in fragile and conflict-affected countries
  3. European Citizen's InitiativeThe European Commission launches the ‘ImagineEU’ competition for secondary school students in the EU.
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region is stepping up its efforts to reduce food waste
  5. UNOPSUNOPS begins works under EU-funded project to repair schools in Ukraine
  6. Georgia Ministry of Foreign AffairsGeorgia effectively prevents sanctions evasion against Russia – confirm EU, UK, USA

Join EUobserver

EU news that matters

Join us