This ending week has seen some major re-activation of the Constitutional process on different fronts.
Firstly, we have seen the re-shuffles in the EP which brought Pöttering into the chair. Even though he often appears uncritically close to Merkel and her Berlin crew, there is good ground to hope that he uses his 28-year-long experience in the EP to strengthen its role in the upcoming Constitutional revisioning. – Primarily ensuring that it is consulted at all in the re-negotiation.
Secondly, there was Merkel’s appearance in Parliament. After a boring and overly general speech on her European approach, some good comments were made in the plenary. But speaking freely, Merkel was more precise at the end of the debate: only sherpa-negotiation – no (new) Convention because the process is still the same; no positive reply to calls for a European referendum; no further enlargement until there is a Constitution. I would have hoped she would turn more ambitious by opening a debate on the referendum or at least inviting the EP and Commission formally to play a partnership role in the adoption of the Berlin Declaration – sadly nothing on this.
Thirdly, DG Communication had some good activity this week. First there was the stakeholder conference in Berlin ending the consultation process on the Whitebook Communication. Over this weekend there was also the pre Youth Summit in Brussels that I could attend. Interesting were the comments of Tamas Szucs, head of strategy in DG Comm and just returned from Berlin. He emphasised the German’s commitment to have a Constitutional text revised already by the end of 2007. Moreover, he was emphasising that the Commission was full part of the (secret) Sherpa negotiations between the presdidency’s diplomats with the first meeting taking place next week. In addition to that I spoke to another responsible for youth affairs and he was confident to plan a second youth convention as soon as it becomes clearer where we move with the Constitution. Let’s see if this materialises. Until then he wants to organise three youth stakeholder meetings, one with the national youth councils, one with the European youth NGOs and one with youth workers to get some access to non-organised youth.