22nd Jan 2022

Germany to make EU constitution a priority next year

Germany's foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier has said that reviving the EU constitution will be one of the priorities of his country's EU presidency next year.

Speaking before a gathering of German diplomats on Monday (4 September), Mr Steinmeier said "We need a constitution as soon as possible."

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"We need this constitution so that we can benefit from better representation in foreign policy and security issues. The constitution will improve the EU," he suggested.

His French counterpart Philippe Douste-Blazy, who was present at the meeting, gave his backing to the document as well.

According to Reuters news agency, Mr Douste-Blazy told the group that France also wants to see the constitution project relaunched.

The EU charter was rejected by both French and Dutch voters in referendums last year putting the bloc into a conundrum about how to solve the political tangle – as 15 countries have already ratified the document.

Meeting in June after a one-year period of reflection, member states avoided taking any concrete decisions and instead set out a timetable.

Under this timetable, Germany will during its presidency present a report on the constitution based on "extensive consultations" with other member states.

The report should contain an "assessment of the state of discussion" and "explore possible future developments."

Afterwards EU leaders should examine the report using it as the basis for "further decisions."

However member states have not committed themselves politically much further than this with the June statements concluding in a woolly manner that it is "understood that the necessary steps to that effect will have been taken during the second semester of 2008 at the latest."

In the second half of 2008, France will have the presidency of the EU and will be under new leadership following elections in 2007.

The Netherlands, facing elections in November this year, could have a new leader with analysts suggesting that only after elections in these two countries can a constitution revival be spoken about in any real sense.

However, others are taking a more practical approach. EU commission president Jose Manuel Barroso has made it clear that he thinks the bloc should stop navel-gazing over its constitutional tangle and should rather focus on concrete things that it can achieve using its internal market.

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