France and Germany’s leaders have agreed that the pause in the EU constitutional process should continue until Berlin takes up the rotating presidency of the bloc in the first half of next year. At one of the regular bi-monthly Franco-German summits, Angela Merkel and Jacques Chirac also agreed that decisions on the charter should be taken before France’s turn at the presidency finishes at the end of 2008.
In the east German town of Rheinsberg, the German chancellor said: “A phase of reflection is a phase for reflection. One finds oneself in this sort of phase when a situation is not easy to surmount. But even in these complicated situations the particular creativity of European policy has always known how to find a way to lead us towards the future.”
Many in Europe are looking to Merkel to revive the constitution, a year after French and Dutch voters rejected it.The EU agreed last month to wait until after Chirac’s successor is in place to discuss the way forward with the constitution. Chirac’s term runs out in 2007.
He said of the constitutional rejections and the prospects for progress: “There was naturally not a ‘plan B’; We are now in a certain difficulty; We’ll get out of it, naturally; There needs to be a necessary reflection; Everything together must be reassessed with a great deal of wisdom; That is the reason for which I trust the German presidency to relaunch the train in the right direction.”
Political analysts say ties between Berlin and the present French government remain strong, and that even with the respect Merkel has earned since taking office, she will be very dependent on the next French government.