Merkel says EU must find solution to impasse together with Irish
German Chancellor rejects EU members proceeding at a different pace, longs for unity…19 June 2008
GERMANY - Chancellor Angela Merkel stressed the need for urgency in pressing ahead with the European Union's Treaty of Lisbon, speaking to the German parliament hours before a key EU summit that will focus on Ireland's rejection of the treaty.
Merkel rejected a "two-speed Europe" in which the 27 members would proceed at different speeds towards coordinating economic and political policies.
European unity was not an end in itself but extremely important, the chancellor told the Bundestag.
A solution had to be found with the Irish. "And I am convinced that we will find this solution," she said.
The other members of the 27-member bloc would have to listen to Ireland's arguments, Merkel said, before travelling to Brussels later Thursday for a two-day summit with other EU heads.
"I will press for the ratification process to proceed," she said, pointing to the passage of the necessary legislation in Britain's upper house Wednesday as "a piece of very important news for Europe."
"Europe cannot afford another period of reflection... Europe cannot afford to engage in horse-trading," the chancellor said, although she did not set a date for the Treaty of Lisbon to come into force.
Following the rejection of the Treaty of Lisbon's forerunner, the European Constitution, by French and Dutch voters in mid 2005, Britain and other countries called for a "period of reflection" that culminated in the Treaty of Lisbon, signed by EU political heads in December last year.
Merkel told the Bundestag that the Treaty of Lisbon was essential for Europe to face the challenges of globalization.
The Treaty of Nice, which came into effect in early 2003, was "insufficient" as a basis for the EU to face the future, she said, noting in particular that Lisbon gave national parliaments additional powers to supervise the EU.
"Only Lisbon will give meaning to the subsidiary principle," the chancellor said.
She also stressed once again the need for the bloc to speak with one voice when dealing with the major powers.
Germany would assist France, which takes over the EU presidency next month, in resolving the problems, Merkel said.
EU leaders have in the past insisted that the Treaty of Lisbon should be ratified by all 27 members by the end of this year, so that elections to the European Parliament can take place under the new dispensation next year.
However senior German government officials now acknowledge that timetable will slip.