If the proposed European Union constitutional treaty is not adopted, further enlargement of the 25-member club to include Turkey and other candidates will be impossible, German lawmakers said Saturday.
Germany has been more welcoming of the EU than some of its neighbors
"If the constitution does not come into effect, we remain with the Treaty of Nice, and the whole of Europe agrees that Nice was not sufficient for enlargement," Martin Schulz, head of the Socialist group in the European Parliament, told the Süddeutsche Zeitung.
Voters in France and the Netherlands rejected the constitution in referendums during the past seven days. Romania and Bulgaria are due to enter the EU in 2007 and Turkey is seeking membership.
In the same newspaper Klaus Hansch, a German Social Democrat and former president of the parliament, said that European citizens were "very sceptical about a new enlargement" adding that the prospect of Turkish membership had played "a very major role" in the "no" votes in France and the Netherlands. "Europe needs a phase of consolidation which will last much longer than five years," he said.
Germans increasingly against treaty
The statements come amid a rash of unofficial surveys in the country which show that a rising number of Germans are increasingly skeptical of the new embattled EU constitution -- a fact that's being attributed to the lack of a real referendum on the treaty in Germany. The country voted only in the parliament to ratify the treaty.
Dutch cows wear protest signs ahead of the referendum on the EU constitution in Oosthuizen, 32 km north of Amsterdam. The Dutch word "Boe" refers to the sound cows make and, like the English "boo," signals disapproval.
On Saturday, the mass-selling daily Bild headlined "96.9 percent against the EU Constitution" on its front page, pointing to a survey it conducted among 390,694 readers along with television station RTL. Experts are warning that the recent rejections of the treaty by France and the Netherlands are creating a ripple effect, leading to a surge of negative attitudes towards the EU constitution among Germans.
In one poll carried out by the institute Polis for news magazine Focus, 44 percent of those surveyed said they were in favor of the treaty with 39 against.
Full membership for new candidates on hold?
The head of the European affairs commission of the lower house of the German parliament, Matthias Wissman, for his part said that full membership for new candidates was "out of range for a long time."
Wissmann, a Christian Democrat, told Sunday's Welt am Sonntag, there should be a "new architecture" for the European Union, with eurozone countries at the centre, and those that do not use the single European currency further out. In an outer circle would be "those countries we cannot consider full members for a long time but which have a European outlook."
Erdogan: Nothing but full membership
Wissmann referred to candidates for eventual membership, including Croatia, Macedonia and Ukraine, as well as Turkey, whose Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan repeated in an interview with Sunday's Bild am Sonntag that his government would not accept anything but full membership.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan
A "partnership" with the EU, as suggested by French and German right-wingers in particular, would be against the spirit of the relations between the two sides and break Europe's commitments to Ankara, Erdogan added.
He said Turkey had fulfilled the political criteria required by Brussels and was busy implementing the necessary reforms. While the French and Dutch rejection of the constitution were "cause for concern," Erdogan said the EU had overcome such setbacks in the past.