Tuesday, January 13, 2004
Romero's Children

The undead European Constitution was twitching with support from the Poles and the French yesterday. Further detail on the negotiations in early December demonstrates that Berlusconi heroically tried to bury the project through cack-handed bilateral negotiations where he remained hubris-in-chief, possibly outdoing even Chirac. However, now that the Italians have passed the parcel on to the Irish, the latter have sensibly left the divided parties to talk to each other whilst they concentrate on scientific research. The Poles have taken a more amenable stance by appointing a pro-Constitution candidate, Danuta Huebner, for one of the Commission posts.

The smaller states appear to be taking a more public stance on their opposition to 'variable geometry' or a Franco-German core. They must also have been heartened by the recent decision to declare the overthrow of the Stability Pact as unlawful, cementing their alliance with the Commission. The wish to prevent the development of such a division may spur the smaller countries to agree on the European Constitution and paves the way for a compromise with the Big Three.

The important players that emerge from this dance to the German timetable of constitutional completion by the end of 2004 are Benelux. They will provide important evidence of whether they will throw their lot in with the "core" or support the "Europe indivisible" approach of the other small Member States, which the accession countries appear to be adopting. The two other lynchpins in these negotiations are Spain and Poland, since both will require monetary lubrication to ease their concessions.

Britain's acceptance of Europe will be met with relief and and attempt to highlight the "redlines" that were negotiated away without telling us.

(23.26, 13th January 2004)


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