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31st May 2020

German position on Constitution 'sensible', says Ahern

  • Gerhard Schröder - has resigned as leader of the SPD and is in Dublin to discuss the Constitution (Photo: European Commission)

Ahead of a meeting today (9 February) the Irish Prime Minister and current head of the EU Bertie Ahern has called the German position on the Constitution "sensible".

In an interview with German news magazine Der Spiegel, Mr Ahern said "Schröder's position is sensible. The fact is that Germany has a large population, Germany makes a large contribution to the EU - and that must be reflected in the voting system".

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His comments come as the German Chancellor visits Dublin today to discuss the EU Constitution.

Talks on the treaty blueprint broke down in December after member states were unable to reconcile their differences over a new vote weighting system - strongly backed by Germany.

The new system is based on 'double majority' requiring at least half of member states, representing 60% of the EU population in order for a decision to be taken.

Germany, which has the biggest population in the EU and has been under-represented in this way up to now, is strongly backing the new system.

But it has been strongly opposed by Poland and Spain who, with their relatively beneficial vote weighting under the current Nice Treaty, stand to lose the most.

Compromise?

Mr Ahern also signalled where a compromise may be reached on the delicate question. He said that while the double majority position principle should be accepted, the details could then be worked out.

The meeting between the two follows a series of bilateral meetings between the Irish Presidency and EU leaders.

It is also the public front for a series of private negotiations that have been ongoing between capitals for the past month.

This has led diplomats to be more optimistic about the overall chances of getting a result within the Irish term at the head of the EU which lasts until the end of June.

Schröder stepping down

Mr Schröder's visit to Dublin comes after news on Friday (6 February) that he stepped down as leader of the Social Democrat Party (SPD).

"I will concentrate on my work as chancellor and head of government", he told a news conference.

The Chancellor named Franz Müntefering, the party's current parliamentary group leader, as the man he would like to succeed him as chairman of the centre-left party.

Mr Schröder's resignation came in the face of record low ratings and strong criticism for his economic reform plans.

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