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Germany Wants to Bring EU Constitution Back to Life

DW staff (kjb)September 6, 2006

Germany takes over the EU presidency in 2007 and is writing its to-do list. The EU constitution is at the top, said German Foreign Minister Steinmeier, over a year after it was shot down by French and Dutch voters.

The EU constitution's adoption process has been moving ahead at snail's pace at bestImage: picture-alliance/ dpa/DW-Grafik

Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said this week in Berlin at an annual meeting of the heads of German diplomatic missions that revitalizing plans for a European Union constitution would be a top priority when Germany takes over the EU presidency in the first half of 2007.

"We need this constitution so that we have a better representation in foreign and security policies," said Steinmeier.

He added that not having an effective constitution could endanger both deeper integration within the union and relations with EU neighbor states, reported the daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.

Controversy over current draft

EU Parlament verabschiedet EU Verfassung
The European Parliament approved the constitutional treaty, but not unanimouslyImage: AP

Among the reforms included in the proposed document are the creation of an EU foreign minister post, simplified voting procedures and a permanent presidency to replace the current six-month rotation.

The current draft of the EU Constitutional Treaty was put on the back burner after being rejected by referendum voters in France and the Netherlands in mid-2005.

Criticism of single-market economic policies, trends toward centralization, immigration policies and the euro were major factors in the "non" and "nee" votes.

Appeal for European unity

French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy, who was also at the conference, said that his country wanted to see a revival of the constitution project as well, despite last year's referendum result.

Frank-Walter Steinmeier bestätigt Entführung in Irak
Steinmeier is nearing one year in officeImage: AP

Luxemburg's Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker said it will be Germany's task during the presidency to make an appeal for European unity.

"Half of the population wants more Europe, the other half things that we already have too much Europe," said Juncker, as reported by Stern daily.

All 25 European Union member states must ratify the constitution for it to take effect. National law determines if the decision is made by the parliamentary body or through a referendum vote.

No concrete plan for changes

The extent to which the existing document will be changed is under discussion.

Extensive changes would require the 16 countries that have already approved the document to review it again, while insufficient changes might not satisfy those states that rejected last year's version.

Steinmeier said at the opening of the conference Monday that Europe's relations with its neighbors to the east, energy security and diplomatic efforts in the Middle East were additional priorities on Germany's 2007 presidential program.