German Chancellor Angela Merkel has warned not to expect major breakthroughs during her country’s EU presidency, when it takes over from Finland in January. At the end of the European Union leaders’ summit, she advised “everyone not to put us under too much pressure”. She was referring to solving the stalemate over the EU constitution. The line laid down in Brussels was that the criteria for enlargement, in which the constitution is central, will be more strictly adhered to than in the past.
Commission head Jose Manuel Barroso highlighted the guiding principle: “A consensus that is based on the three Cs: ‘consolidation, conditionality and communication’. This summit sends the message that ours will remain an open house. We have given new impetus to the aspirations of the Western Balkans, and we have clearly kept the door open for Turkey.” The EU leaders set a tougher tone for possible future expansion, keeping the bloc’s standards high while seeking not to discourage hopefuls. Bulgaria and Romania will become new members this January 1st, constrained to pursue unfinished preparations in some areas. The toughening of the bloc’s expansion policy is supposed to reassure sceptical voters.