EU to keep anniversary declaration simple

8th March 2007, Comments 0 comments

12 March 2007, Brussels (dpa) - Forget climate change and energy security. European Union leaders meeting on Thursday face another daunting challenge: Making sure a statement marking the bloc's 50th birthday on March 25 is simple, jargon-free and uplifting. That may be easier said than done, however. For one, even the most talented EU policymakers aren't really known for an inspiring writing style or ability to reach out to the people. Second, even though the 50th anniversary celebrations in Berlin are onl

12 March 2007

Brussels (dpa) - Forget climate change and energy security. European Union leaders meeting on Thursday face another daunting challenge: Making sure a statement marking the bloc's 50th birthday on March 25 is simple, jargon-free and uplifting.

That may be easier said than done, however.

For one, even the most talented EU policymakers aren't really known for an inspiring writing style or ability to reach out to the people.

Second, even though the 50th anniversary celebrations in Berlin are only a few weeks away, the 27 often-feuding leaders are still squabbling on the contents of the so-called Berlin Declaration.

Luxembourg's Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker, chairman of the group of countries with the common euro currency, wants the euro to be mentioned. Not surprisingly, non eurozone-countries such as Britain and Sweden dislike the idea.

Nine EU members, including France, Spain and Italy, are pushing for a stronger emphasis on what they call "social Europe," with a focus on workers' rights. But free-marketeers in Britain and the Czech Republic cold-shoulder any such plans.

Meanwhile, Poland is lobbying for a reference to Europe's Christian roots, something that secular France refuses to accept.

There is also disagreement on whether the statement should mention EU enlargement as a success story given the bloc's current "enlargement blues" and weariness about further expansion.

Amidst the discord, EU states do agree that the Berlin Declaration should be an easy read and cover only three pages.

German officials - representing the current German EU presidency - insist they want the document to jargon-free. But they have so far refused to reveal the identity of the text's author.

"That is our best-kept secret," said one official, adding only that Germany would not task an EU official to do the ambitious job.

EU-watchers say they know what is needed. The declaration should be "a powerful text which sums up what the EU is for and why it matters in today's world," according to the European Policy Centre, a Brussels-based think tank.

"Trying to address too many issues would fatally weaken its impact," the EPC said, adding: "Treating it like a Christmas tree to which everyone attaches their favourite bubbles will only diminish its glitter."

Given disagreements over the short document, prospects for a deal on reviving the EU's voluminous failed constitution - rejected by French and Dutch voters in 2005 - look even more sombre,

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is hoping to get leaders to agree on a road map for reviving the treaty by end-June, before Germany hands over the reins of EU power to Portugal.

But most EU policymakers are watching to see if she can surmount the first tough hurdle by securing agreement on a text for Berlin.

DPA

Subject: German news

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