Expelled from Class

BERLIN/VIENNA | | frankreich

BERLIN/VIENNA (Own report) - German government advisors are threatening France and the Netherlands with expulsion from the European Union. The "painful procedure" of being "expelled from class" for the "ratification unwilling (...) States" should not be excluded, announced the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP) to the European opponents of a new edition of the EU draft constitution. The German scheme is to have the document again placed on the agenda, first by the Austrian and then by the Finnish EU Council presidency, in order to have it introduced for the final vote by the German EU presidency, during the first half-year 2007. Only "at the end of the ratification process" will it be clear, "whether new opportunities have emerged for peaceful coexistence of several models of integration," explains the SWP. The implicit threat, repeats similar provocations from the 90s, when German European policy wanted to vacate French resistance; not unlike at that time, it is, also today, about the prominent position in the intra-European rivalry.

Noncommittally Emphasized

Already in the government coalition agreement, between the CDU/CSU and SPD, a continuation of the ratification process for the EU Constitutional Treaty was stipulated and announced that "under German [EU] presidency, in the first half of 2007, new initiatives" [1] would be made. Although, in the wake of the clear referendums that took place in France and the Netherlands [2], the draft is an absolute failure, several EU States (Estland, Belgium) are continuing to hold referendums on the document. In June, under an Austrian council presidency, EU heads of states and governments will again be concerned with the text. The Finnish government, which succeeds the Austrian in the EU presidency, will likewise think "about the constitution", announces the German political policy advisor, Werner Weidenfeld. Concerning German government plans, Weidenfeld reports that "to the unaltered draft constitution, an appendix, a supplementary protocol", should be added in which "the social aspects of Europe" should be noncommittally "emphasized".[3]

Painful drop

As Weidenfeld sees it, the EU's growing expansion of global power makes a more strict internal regime, in the long term, appear inevitable. "The more powerful Europe becomes", explains the political policy advisor, "the more painfully the absence of a constitution will be felt." Weidenfeld advises to have patience. On a long-term basis the EU's "necessity to create more clarity", will in any case "become irresistible."[4] The SWP, on the other hand, calls for speed. If Berlin does not put through the Constitutional Treaty rapidly, it runs the risk, "that the EU will drop into the league of the reform incapable state systems."[5] It is therefore an error to exclude "the option of the 'class expulsion'" for those recalcitrant states. This concerns particularly France and the Netherlands, but eventually also Great Britain, the Czech Republic and Poland, where more negative referenda are not to be excluded.

Deficits

To bring about a reversal in the mood and due to hefty German pressure, the EU Commission has now initiated a new conception of its PR work. The inability to have prevented the referendum setbacks in France and the Netherlands reveals "heavy deficits in the commission's communication policies", is the conclusion drawn in an analysis of the "Bertelsmann Political Research Group", which is affiliated with the media firm by the same name. French journalists had judged the situation differently in May 2005. "As far as the transmission of the debate is concerned, the bias in favor of the "OUI" borders on propaganda", it was written in an appeal, in which representatives of the media expressed their fear, that the "continuous sprinkling" in favor of the draft constitution is enough "to discredit" their profession.[6] Bertelsmann controls a significant portion of the French media and is suspected of having used this influence [7] for the imposition of the draft constitution supported by Berlin - to no avail. This has spurred the losers on to new PR activities.

Classical PR

Appropriate measures are discussed in the "White Book on a European Communication Policy", published February 1, 2006 by the EU Commission. Among the suggestions contained in it, is the intention of developing the EU television station, "Europe by Satellite," and to offer all national TV networks finished programs. After it encountered hefty criticism, the commission withdrew, for the time being, the suggestion of establishing its own news agency, without signifying a correction of course. The activities aim at an intentional neutralization of public debate with executive budgetary means and are approaching the methods of totalitarian states. This subjugation of social access to information and of exchange of controversial viewpoints, under official control, encounters no fundamental compunction at the Bertelsmann Research Group.[8] The communication strategy discussed in the "White Book" is called "political PR in the classical sense" by the German think tank. Here is "the production, in the foreground, of a uniform, trustworthy image."

Threats

The German "Institute for International and Security Affairs" (SWP) considers the results of this strategy to be uncertain. Only "at the end of the ratification process" will it be clear "whether new opportunities for peaceful coexistence of several models of integration emerge," write the government advisors in Berlin.[9] This is an allusion to the competition between German and French interests. Whereas Berlin understands the concept of "integration" to be a wide ranging eastward shift of the EU, with simultaneous assumption of German hegemonic rights, Paris prefers the development of the "integration" by "consolidation" - an eastward shift only as far as absolutely necessary and, under no condition, favoring an augmentation of German power. The current considerations of government advisors in Berlin, signalizes that German foreign policy does not exclude a showdown - renewed resistance to a new version of the cosmetically transformed constitution text could lead one to feel compelled to take unilateral measures and enter a coalition with those Eastern European states willing to accept the Constitution. At the expense of France.

Crisis

This threat is reminiscent of provocations that German foreign policy allowed in 1994. At that time Wolfgang Schaeuble, currently Minister of the Interior, of the grand coalition, demanded the "integration of the Eastern Central-European neighbors into the (west-)European postwar system". For the case of western resistance "Germany could be requested or, because of its own security obligations, be tempted to take care of the stabilization of Eastern Europe, alone and in the traditional way".[10] The paper was published on September 1, 1994 - the 55th Anniversary of the German aggression against Poland. An acute diplomatic crisis resulted, wherein the French Ambassador was recalled to the Elysée palace.

Winner

In view of its economic influence in Eastern Europe, achieved in the meantime, dominant circles in German foreign policy feel strong enough to warn Paris against taking the results of the constitutional referendum too seriously. With from 20 to 35 per cent of the market, Germany is the largest supplier and largest customer of Poland, The Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Slovenia. Far behind is France with, at the maximum, seven per cent (with the exception of Slovenia).[11] More than a quarter of all foreign direct investments in the above mentioned states come from Germany. In Hungary the German portion of the foreign investment reaches even one third of the total. The outstanding German position has allowed Berlin to become the politico-economic winner of the EU Eastern expansion; France is supposed to submit to the further ascent - if necessary also through being "expelled from class".

[1] Koalitionsvertrag von CDU, CSU und SPD. IX. Deutschland als verantwortungsbewusster Partner in Europa und der Welt
[2] see also Zusammenbruch, Am Boden and Aussitzen
[3], [4] EU-Verfassung gilt Ratspräsidenten als heiße Kartoffel; www.cap-lmu.de/aktuell/pressespiegel/2006/eu-verfasssung.php
[5] Nachsitzen, Sitzenbleiben oder Klassenverweis? Realisierungsperspektiven für den Europäischen Verfassungsvertrag; SWP-Studie 2006/S 04, Februar 2006
[6] see also Diskreditiert
[7] see also Imperium Germanicum
[8] Das Weißbuch der Kommission über eine europäische Kommunikationspolitik - ein Neuanfang europäischer Kommunikation?; Bertelsmann Forschungsgruppe Politik, CAP Aktuell Nr. 1, Februar 2006
[9] Nachsitzen, Sitzenbleiben oder Klassenverweis? Realisierungsperspektiven für den Europäischen Verfassungsvertrag; SWP-Studie 2006/S 04, Februar 2006
[10] Überlegungen zur europäischen Politik; 1.9.1994
[11] Source: Statistisches Bundesamt