Next week, a changing of the guard at the European Parliament is expected to sharpen the focus on the EU constitution.
The members will vote on a new president.
The front-runner candidate, Germany Conservative Hans-Gert Pöttering, has already been replaced at the head of the European People’s Party by Frenchman Joseph Daul.
He says Pöttering’s close relations with Berlin, now holding the EU rotating presidency, will come into play.
“I believe the chancellor and our president Pöttering want to try to make headway on the constitution. What has already been adopted needs to be respected; a solution has to be found for those who have not yet adopted it and also those who have rejected it. That will probably be a bit harder.”
The Merkel government has made clear it should not be expected to work miracles to resolve the institutional impasse. In the next months, several EU countries will be holding elections.
Analyst Karel Lanoo:
“I mean certainly the French elections – as they’ve already said – will prevent them from doing much in the first four months. But I just wonder whether it’s not an excuse, let’s say, not to interfere in the French debate. According to me, they shouldn’t care too much about it. France is one of the 27 member countries, so there are 25 other members for which the Germans have to care.”
France and the Netherlands are the two members in which voters rejected the constitution.
Pöttering has been in the parliament since 1979 and has a reputation as having made no enemies in all his time there.
The socialist outgoing parliament president, Spaniard Josep Borrell, has said he does not expect much progress on the European constitution in the next six months.