The absence of posts here should not be taken as a waning of interest in things European, or indeed in blogging. There has been light activity over at the other place
, recently, and a spate of travelling in the next few weeks may increase the posting quotient on both blogs. Funnily enough I find it easier to post when I am away from home (most people seem to say the opposite and issue apologies for light posting on their blogs because they are away). It is probably a reflection on the fact that most of my travelling is for work, and much of it is done alone, without the other half. Obviously it is dependent upon finding internet connections for the laptop (am currently in Goodenough Club
in London - the most civilised place to stay in London - with such a connection, for a conference
tomorrow and Saturday), but this is increasingly easy these days in hotels (although it is sometimes quite expensive).
Anyway, to return to things European (this isn't supposed to be a personal blog...), I was interested to read Nosemonkey's take
today on the attempts by the Czech Republic to undermine the mood music which Chancellor Merkel would like to surround the celebrations
of the 50th Anniversary of the Treaty of Rome
this coming weekend in Berlin. Who knows what politics the Czechs
are playing. But it is doubtless something to do with manoeuvring for position with regard to the more important question of negotiating amendments to the current treaties to incorporate some of the institutional reforms included in the ill-fated Constitutional Treaty. It is also probably something to do with the complex internal politics of Central Europe, and a desire to make the German Government seem authoritarian in its secretive approach. After all, given that the Poles
have apparently agreed to sign up to the Declaration, the question arises as to what precisely the Czechs are trying to achieve. Anyway, I feel I should correct a slight misnomer in the reporting of the approach which Merkel appears to be taking. It was always clear that unless agreement could be reached on the part of all 27 Member States, a distinctly suboptimal position, but a position none the less that could be taken, was that any Declaration could be signed by the heads of the three institutions - the Commission, the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers/European Council. This was the approach taken to the promulgation of the Charter of Fundamental Rights in 2000
, after it had been drafted by a Convention in which some of the most influential members were the representatives of the national governments. In fact, the Charter Convention was the first time that Peter Goldsmith
, as UK Government representative, crossed my radar screen. And jolly influential he was too, as this pdf
shows. There is nothing institutionally
wrong with the three presidents of the institutions signing a declaration, since it is clear that there is a distinction between the Council President signing qua
President, and the Member States formally committing themselves severally to a document (such as a Treaty). However, it strikes me that the greater problem with this suboptimal solution to the problem of trying to get something declaratory which summarises the past and promises more honey for tea in the future formally approved is not that it looks like Germany ordering the others around, but rather that it will be seen as unacceptably partisan, because Merkel, Poettering and Barroso all belong to the Christian Democrat European People's Party. Now that really is a problem.