From Socialist Voice, April 2007

Reviving the EU Constitution: The “Berlin Declaration”

The signing of the “Berlin Declaration” by heads of state and government of the European Union on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the Treaty of Rome paves the way for an intended replacement for the defeated EU Constitution. This will have the same content under a different title, and it is planned that it will be ratified as quickly as possible.
     Meanwhile the most influential German think tank, the Bertelsmann Foundation, maintains that European unification must be driven forward and that the EU Constitution is to be merely the “point of departure.”
     The foundation has recently presented a draft paper to senior politicians from twenty EU countries and the United States on the “strategic reorientation” of the European Union, in which it recommends, as a first step, that the national armed forces of all member-states be combined into a single EU army. The German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, has taken up this suggestion and has warned against opposing integration, saying that “the ideal of European unification is today again a matter of war and peace.”
     Of course this new process will proceed in a totally EU-style undemocratic manner, similar to the drafting of the now defunct Constitution—a method enthusiastically adopted by the German government in drawing up the declaration. This was based on a suggestion of the German Chancellor’s office that was discussed in secret with delegates (so-called “focal points”) in EU member-states.
     It is difficult to believe, but the envoy of the Czech Republic has revealed that those nominated as “focal points” had only a single phone conversation with the German authorities and were then informed by e-mail of the declaration’s content. During the progress of this elite project neither the national parliaments nor the European Parliament had sight of the wording arrived at in this conspiratorial manner; and, not unexpectedly, in no case were the people of any member-state consulted.
     In this declaration, arrived at solely by decree and without any democratic feedback, it now states: “We citizens of the European Union are, to our good fortune, united.” Well, are we?
     And the German government has made it clear that it will continue with this undemocratic procedure to force the ratification of a slightly modified EU Constitution. German government circles have even let it be known that the method of implementing the Berlin Declaration is “of value in itself, because we wish to use this method for progressing the second half of our presidency and the road map for the Constitution, if member-states can live with it and something useful comes out of it.”
     Readers will recall that the original EU Constitution was adopted by the “consensus” method, whereby documents were not even translated for the national delegations, and Giscard ignored more than a thousand amendments submitted by these same delegations. We are obviously in for more of the same, while Germany clearly hopes to advance its position on the EU Constitution to a breakthrough by means of this procedural sleight of hand.
     Somewhat intriguingly, there is nothing new in this, as it has recently emerged that the famous photograph showing heads of state signing the Treaty of Rome was faked: they were in fact signing blank sheets of paper!
     But the influential Bertelsmann Foundation is demanding further large steps in a clear demonstration of the power of lobby groups in formulating policy within the European Union. At the end of February it called together forty-five high-ranking participants from twenty-one countries to a “Strategy Group”—among them the former Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schüssel, the former Polish President Aleksander Kwaśniewski, the Czech Deputy Prime Minister, Alexandr Vondra, the former German Foreign Minister Hans Fischer, and several EU Commissioners.
     The Bertelsmann Foundation publicised the event, claiming that “the hand-picked circle of participants covered all the great geographical areas of today’s European Union, EU candidate states, and the USA.” This was aimed at the “strategic reorientation” of the European Union.
     According to the report, further development of the European Union “is only possible on the basis of an altered treaty.” A “memorandum” on which the debate was based states that the EU Constitution proposed in Berlin is “simply the point of departure to enable the achievement of totally new goals. Europe wishes to be acknowledged alongside the United States of America as the voice of the West. For this, considerably greater efforts are necessary on the world stage, from world trade through global environment up to civil and military crisis management.”
     As the next step, the members of the “Strategy Group” proposed the merging of EU member-states’ national forces into a unified EU army. The German Chancellor then quickly proposed: “In the EU itself we must move closer to a common European army.” This drives the debate far beyond the EU Constitution.
     Another suggestion by the Bertelsmann Foundation that was laid before the “Strategy Group” proposes that the internal hierarchy of the European Union should be more strongly formalised than proposed in the constitution, and increased powers of political decision should be conferred on those states that have adopted the euro. “The euro group should have a special role in designing the future of the EU.”
     To increase pressure on the smaller EU members, the German government is portraying its plans as a method of avoiding war. The Chancellor announced that “we should not take peace and democracy for granted. The ideal of European unification is still today a question of war and peace.”
     Similar threats in the past enabled the German government to force through the eastern expansion of the European Union. Then the present Minister of the Interior, Wolfgang Schäuble, declared in a strategy paper that “Germany might be required or compelled by its own security considerations to achieve the stabilisation of Eastern Europe alone, and in the traditional manner.”
     That paper was published on 1 September 1994, the forty-fifth anniversary of Germany’s attack on Poland. It can hardly have been a coincidence.
     The Chancellor makes clear the determination of German foreign policy to achieve a total reordering of Europe under the aegis of Berlin, enforced by all means, apparently not excluding military means. Haven’t we been there before?

The “Berlin Declaration” is available from links on www.german-foreign-policy.com. Information on the Bertelsmann Foundation is at www.bertelsmann-stiftung.de/cps/rde/xchg/bst_en.

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