The European Union’s leaders have wrapped up their summit in Brussels putting off until 2008 the hard decisions on what to do with the bloc’s stalled constitution.
The deadlock has cast doubt over whether the EU can continue to take in new members.
The French and Dutch rejections of the constitution one year ago were seen as partly linked to concern among voters about the club getting any bigger.
Chancellor Wolfgang Scheussel, steering the Austrian EU presidency until the end of this month, said:
“The European Commission will define what the absorbtion capacity consists of. That will be useful with a sometimes sceptical public, to show that this is not done in haste, and that the consequences of future enlargement are borne in mind. It will be looked at more broadly and with better preparation.”
In the meantime, the leaders chose to push ahead with projects they hope will restore the credibility of the EU at home or abroad. for instance, the leaders approved a mechanism to give the Palestinians much-needed aid.
Commission President José Manuel Barroso summed up:
“We also moved up a gear from a period of reflexion and we are now coming to a period of active engagement to get an institutionnal settlement and to get also political achievement.”
Berlin has promised to make substantial proposals during its EU presidency in the first half of next year.
Germany and 14 other countries that have ratified the treaty insist that two referenda should not be allowed to kill it.
French and Dutch elections in May next year will make the options clearer.
A report on what might be do-able has been ordered for the first half of 2007, with a commitment to take decisions later in 2008.