Chancellor Angela Merkel has formally told the European Parliament in Strasbourg that she aims to offer a plan for resolving the deadlock over the EU constitution by the end of Germany’s six-month presidency of the European Council in June. She gave no indication of what kind of compromise she was considering. “It is in the interest of Europe, the Member States and their citizens to bring the constitutional process to term by the next European Parliament elections in mid-2009. A failure would be a historic error”, she said.
With French President Jacques Chirac and British Prime Minister Tony Blair set to leave office this year, Merkel has emerged as Europe’s most influential leader. Yet the president of the parliament’s liberals, Graham Watson, voiced his doubts: “Chancellor, on the constitution I wish you success. Many in my group are not optimistic that the conditions exist in London, or in Paris or in Warsaw for a move forward.”
After the speeches, Merkel marked a new initiative which is aimed at improving continuity in EU affairs. The German leader met her counterparts from Portugal and Slovenia: Prime Ministers Jose Socrates and Janez Jansa. For the first time, three Member States are coordinating a joint work programme for their EU presidencies over the next 18 months.