Success Story

BERLIN/PARIS | | frankreich

BERLIN/PARIS (Own report) - A "Berlin Declaration" will give the EU summit on Sunday (March 25) the "initial spark" for the ratification of a slightly modified EU Constitution. As confirmed by the chairman of the relevant working group of the conservative CDU/CSU parliamentary (Bundestag) group, Michael Stuebgen, the declaration negotiated secretly, will, for tactical reasons, not mention the word "constitution," but will contain its "political substance." The German chancellor reserves for herself the final formulation of the document. The "Berlin Declaration" is supposed to be the crowning moment of the festivities on the weekend celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Treaties of Rome. The festive event is to celebrate the "unprecedented success story" (Foreign Ministry), in the course of which Germany, with the help of the Washington, successfully nullified conceptions of Europe held by the French resistance to the Nazis. "France's Germany policy died, when the German-American post-war alliance began" - in the summer of 1945, judges the French historian, Prof. Annie Lacroix-Riz in a discussion with german-foreign-policy.com. In the conflict around the EU constitution, France again relents. Both of the principal contenders in the French presidential race plan to have the draft treaty ratified, in spite of the May 2005 referendum defeat.

Final Touches

The German government made known already a week ago, that in spite of hefty objections on the part of several member states, the focus of the "Berlin Declaration" will be "future oriented." This refers to Berlin's insistence upon the ratification of the EU Draft Constitution. The CDU parliamentarian, Michael Stuebgen explained that , to avoid "unnecessary complications," the term "constitution" will not appear in the declaration.[1] To the populations of several EU nations, using the term "constitution," evoking the draft constitution that had been voted down in popular referendums or shown to be unpopular in opinion polls, would be a direct provocation. As far as Stuebgen is concerned, "essential" for the "Berlin Declaration" is not the term "constitution" but the "contents, the political substance, to which we adhere." The EU policy maker maintains that it was necessary to establish the document through secret negotiations and not permit a democratic debate. Otherwise the risk was of long-winded negotiations ("lasting months, at best") ending in a less than esthetic result ("an unreadable compendium"). The final formulations of the EU declaration are reserved for the German Chancellor, said Stuebgen. "Angela Merkel will apply the final touches."

Isolation

Stuebgen also confirmed that Berlin is setting the guidelines for the EU constitution. The wording, according to him, should be "very close to the current text."[2] At the beginning of the week, the President of the EU Commission, José Manuel Barroso, made known in the German press that he wants to allow "this or that correction" for the sake of "negotiation leeway."[3] But then all of the member states must "do everything within their power, to avoid another setback." Berlin refuses to make any serious concessions on content, particularly in regards to Poland, who is still resisting the planned strengthening of the German proportion of ballots within EU bodies.[4] Warsaw's objections have to be dealt with through "psychology," according to the CDU politician, Stuebgen.[5] Last weekend Chancellor Merkel succeeded in urging the Polish government to approve the "Berlin Declaration." In the German capital, one hears from reliable sources that Poland cannot afford to be isolated in the EU.

Investment Focus

The "Berlin Declaration," and with it, the "initial spark" for the final ratification of the slightly modified EU constitution, is a step further in the European unification process, that was - rightfully - apostrophized by the Foreign Ministry as an "unprecedented success story."[6] "The USA's commanding victory in 1945," explains the French historian, Annie Lacroix-Riz (professor at the Université Paris VII) in a discussion with german-foreign-policy.com, "made it possible for Germany to rid itself of the consequences of its defeat."[7] As Ms. Lacroix-Riz has proven in several publications, in the aftermath of the Second World War, the United States attributed a greater importance to "the economic resurrection of Germany than to that of France," because in Europe, it was the German Reich that, since the 1920s, had been "the most important recipient of US-American capital."[8] "In truth, before the end of the Second World War, the entire West European leadership knew" says Annie Lacroix-Riz, "what the non-German elites kept secret from their own populations:" The so-called European unification "would take place under the leadership of the former German Reich that, under the aegis of the United States, will have regained its 1937 (or even post 1937) borders."[9]

Fiasco

The German "success story" corresponds to the comprehensive fiasco for France's post-war Germany policy. Paris had already come to the conclusion, in the summer of 1945, that, in the struggle for influence in determining the restructuring of Western Europe, it was hopelessly outgunned by the United States (and indirectly also post-war Germany). In January 1946, Charles de Gaulle resigned as Prime Minister of France, because "he did not want to accept responsibility for France's depreciation into total impotence in occupied Germany," recalls Ms. Lacroix-Riz.[10] Paris was left solely with the option of resisting, as much as possible,"the Reich's achieving equal rights and power (including military)." The project of the so-called integration began, under pressure of the USA, which sought to create a unified European market for its expanding economy, with Germany as the economic nucleus and military frontline state against the Warsaw Treaty Organization.

Barter Currency

Paris sees itself induced, also in the current dissention concerning the EU constitution, to submit to the German plans. The two principal presidential candidates announced that they will ratify the treaty in a slightly modified form, despite the May 2005 referendum defeat. Nicolas Sarkozy alleges that in France "no one contested" the planned restructuring of EU institutions and therefore the treaty could be ratified by the parliament. Ségolène Royal says she is prepared for a new referendum. Her comrade in arms, the well-known former minister and former critic of German hegemonic efforts, Jean-Pierre Chevènement, declared that a few promises on the social level will be the necessary concessions. He also demands corrections in economic policy and in the statutes of the European Central Bank. For this, writes Chevènement, Paris' consent to the EU's restructuring, demanded by Berlin, would be the appropriate "barter currency."[11]

Please read our interview with Prof. Annie Lacroix-Riz in French or in German.

[1], [2] "Das macht Merkel selbst"; n-tv 20.03.2007
[3] So wenig Änderungen wie möglich". Kommissionspräsident Barroso drängt auf Ratifizierung der EU-Verfassung; Berliner Zeitung 19.03.2007
[4] see also Konstante der deutschen Außenpolitik
[5] "Das macht Merkel selbst"; n-tv 20.03.2007
[6] 50 Jahre Römische Verträge; www.eu2007.de
[7] see our Interview with Annie Lacroix-Riz
[8] Annie Lacroix-Riz: Frankreich und die europäische Integration. Das Gewicht der Beziehungen mit den Vereinigten Staaten und Deutschland 1920-1955, in: Thomas Sandkühler (Hg.): Europäische Integration. Deutsche Hegemonialpolitik gegenüber Westeuropa 1920-1960. Beiträge zur Geschichte des Nationalsozialismus Band 18, Göttingen 2002 (Wallstein Verlag)
[9], [10] see our Interview with Annie Lacroix-Riz
[11] Sarkozy et l'Europe: une politique de Gribouille; www.chevenement.fr 19.03.2007