Her reputation as a safe pair of hands intact, Chancellor Angela Merkel has given her summing up of Germany’s presidency of the European Union – at the Parliament, in Brussels.
Merkel coordinated a successful compromise on the EU’s reform treaty at last week’s summit — though many Europe-watchers said it was a shambles.
Merkel said: “This reform treaty takes due notice of European voters’ concerns about a loss of countries’ identities in the face of a super-state. I do not share this apprehension but I have respected it. This is why we decided to remove from the treaty allusions to symbols which reflect a supposed super-state.”
The agreement by the bloc’s heads of state and government towards reforming its common institutions was met with a sigh of relief.
Merkel cautioned critics against action which could derail a definitive deal: “An African proverb goes: ‘If you want to travel fast, go alone; But if you want to travel far, go with others.’ I think that proverb encompasses all the conceptual wisdom of European unification: It is only if we act together that we will be able to preserve everything unique and magnificent that we have achieved in the last fifty years… the ideal of European unity.”
Before giving her speech, Merkel added her signature to new European legislation which forces down the cost to European consumers of mobile telephone communication when crossing borders within the Union.
She will hand over the European Council chair to Portugal for the second half of this year, head high.