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".

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

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

... or subscribe as a group

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.


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.

EU Commission aspires for treaty change on health

The European Commission has proposed a €9.4bn stand-alone programme dedicated to health known as EU4Health. The proposal is touted as a first step towards a possible Treaty change when it comes to health.


Lobbyist register to be tightened after Monsanto case

The EU's joint-transparency register lists thousands of lobbyists and what they spend or earn trying to shape EU legislation. New and clearer rules set for launch at the end of the year may lead to more realistic figures.

EU's smallest institution warned on 'threats, blackmail'

An EU institution known as the EESC has been given until the autumn to initiate a series of reforms to protect victims of harassment and whistleblowers, including against threats, blackmail and bribery attempts.

Ombudsman slams EU bank watchdog for 'revolving doors'

The European Banking Authority allowed its executive director to take a job at one of the world's largest financial lobbying groups. The move has been slammed by the European Ombusdman, who called it maladministration.

Commission defends von der Leyen hiring PR firm

The Berlin-based public relations agency Story Machine has been working with European Commission president Von der Leyen since her days as a candidate for the top EU post. Despite offering the same in-house service, the Commission defended the president's choice.

News in Brief

  1. Orban calls EU Commission recovery plan 'absurd'
  2. ABBA's Björn new president of authors' rights federation
  3. Malta and Libya to create anti-migrant 'units'
  4. France reopening bars and parks next week
  5. EU wants more money to hedge against hard Brexit
  6. UK needs to move in negotiations, EU trade official says
  7. Germany seeks EU sanctions on Russia spy-chief
  8. EU extends sanctions against Syrian regime

This is the (finally) approved European Commission

MEPs gave the green light to the entire new European Commission during the plenary session in Strasbourg - but with the abstention of the Greens and a rejection by the leftist group GUE/NGL.


Welcome to the EU engine room

Welcome to the EU engine room: the European Parliament (EP's) 22 committees, which churn out hundreds of new laws and non-binding reports each year and which keep an eye on other European institutions.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAHow reducing sugar and calories in soft drinks makes the healthier choice the easy choice
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersGreen energy to power Nordic start after Covid-19
  3. European Sustainable Energy WeekThis year’s EU Sustainable Energy Week (EUSEW) will be held digitally!
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic states are fighting to protect gender equality during corona crisis
  5. UNESDACircularity works, let’s all give it a chance
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers call for post-corona synergies between economic recovery and green transition

Latest News

  1. Spain takes 'giant step' on guaranteed minimum income
  2. Vestager hits back at Lufthansa bailout criticism
  3. EU Commission aspires for treaty change on health
  4. Did Russia get Nato's cosmic-level secrets?
  5. EU Commission: Five-fold aid increase for fossil-fuel regions
  6. France opposed guidelines on EU presidency sponsorships
  7. China's post-Covid 19 'techno-nationalist' industrial policy
  8. EU Commission's €1.85trn recovery package - key points

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us