Chancellor Angela Merkel has presented her view of Germany’s six-month European Union presidency, at the European Parliament. The welcome she received in Strasbourg illustrated her support base there. Her speech drove home the role of tolerance at the heart of Europe’s soul. Merkel came late into the EU, with German reunification. Her origins in former communist East Germany she said had reinforced her European convictions. She said: … “I never want to leave this house. There is no better place to live than in this common European house together.”
She referred to forging consensus on a communal constitution, saying integration had been a singular success and must not be thrown away. “The phase of reflection is behind us,” she said. “Now it is time to take decisions, by June. I pledge, by the end of the German presidency, to bring about a decision on a roadmap to pursue the constitutional process. Failure there would be a historic blunder.”
Merkel will lead work on a new draft to replace the charter rejected by French and Dutch voters in 2005. But German officials say what she can achieve depends on who is elected French president this May. Before that, Berlin will host the celebrations marking the 50th anniversary of the Treaties of Rome, which launched European integration.