Monday, December 08, 2003
Moment of Truth

The meetings surrounding the draft of the European Constitution have continued. Whilst the 'Big Three' (Britain, France and Germany) agreed upon a provisional form of military headquarters (an acorn or successful sabotage, depending upon your viewpoint), their proposals still require full agreement from every Member State.

The other issue of European defence is the mutual defence pact, suggested by the Italians at the end of November and viewed as anathema by those smaller countries which maintain the myth of neutrality as their foreign policy objective. This has been ditched for the concept of soverien countries assisting each other in the event of armed aggression.

However, Berlusconi was 55% optimistic on Sunday and was in a halfway house on Saturday. Both France and Germany are unwilling to compromise on their demands for voting powers and greater integration, with Chirac describing the critics of the draft constitution as "incoherent".

Jack Straw has repeated the government's position: that a bad Constitution is worse than no Constitution. The anxious moment is this weekend when final negotiations take place and hardline positions give way to compromises in order to achieve that final deal.

On Monday, we could wake up to find the European superstate has arrived or has been definitely postponed.

(22.50, 8th December 2003)


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