Sunday, December 24, 2006

Germany will take over the EU Presidency of the Council of Ministers on January 1, 2007, and there are high expectations for this half year. Germany has made plans to present a way forward towards a constitution in June 2007, despite the fact that a compromise seems difficult as some member states want to stick to the old version of the Constitution, while Finland and others have decried "picking apart" the draft in favor of moving forward with reforms like Qualified Majority Voting in the Council without the document. (Euractiv coverage)

This disagreement among member states reflects public opinion, which seems lost among the German government's confident assurances that it will be able to reach a compromise -- supposedly without focus groups and probably in a way that will bypass referenda in the future. (IHT from October 2006) "Convincing" people that the constitution is necessary is fraught with danger because it implies that the majority of votes in the French and Dutch referenda were somehow "wrong" because they did not vote the way Germany and other member states wanted.

Germany has also made the final status of Kosovo a high priority for its Presidency. The Serbian election on January 21 will foreshadow the consequences of whichever recommendation comes forward, and will probably indicate just how contentious an independent Kosovo will be for the region.

This will be a big year for Germany otherwise because it will hold the presidency of the G-8, and will be presiding over festivities celebrating the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Rome, one of the first steps towards building the European Union. (German Presidency website)

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