Kurpas, Sebastien, and Riecke, Henning. (2007) "Is Europe Back on Track? Impetus from the German EU Presidency." CEPS Working Document No. 273, July 2007. [Working Paper]
Rarely has an EU Presidency been met with such high expectations as Germany’s in the first half of 2007. With hindsight, it might be said that these expectations have largely been fulfilled. The agreement on a detailed mandate for the upcoming Intergovernmental Conference (IGC) under the Portuguese Presidency now offers a way forward for a Union that has been ‘in crisis’ since the French and Dutch no-votes. This report offers an overview of the German Presidency’s aims in the various policy areas and makes an assessment of the achievements of its six-month term. A summary of the content and structural background of German EU policy is given, explaining developments since unification, Germany’s motivations for European integration, public opinion on European integration and the stances taken by the key political players in Germany. Insight into the organisational structures of the Presidency appears in the annex. While acknowledging the difficulty of gauging the exact impact of the German presidency in relation to other factors, the report draws mostly positive conclusions on internal policies, where agreement on many concrete measures from the presidency’s work programme could be achieved, notably on the single market, justice and home affairs, climate protection and energy policy. With the ‘Berlin Declaration’ Germany achieved a show of unity for the future of the Union that was an auspicious start for the talks on treaty reform. While it is clear that the agreement reached was not only on Germany’s merit, the presidency played a prominent and constructive role throughout the negotiations. The mandate for the IGC is more than just a low common denominator and most parts of the Constitutional Treaty could be saved. In foreign policy, results were less tangible. Germany’s engagement helped to deepen the economic partnership with the US, but due to factors beyond the Presidency’s control, could not avoid deterioration in EU-Russia relations. In Kosovo and the Middle East, substantial settlements are also a long way off, but the EU is now preparing for an ambitious operation in Kosovo and Germany helped to engage the Middle East Quartet with the peace process, thus moving the conflict higher up on the international agenda. Overall it can be said that the pragmatic step-by-step approach of the German Presidency yielded better results than a sober look at the initial conditions would have suggested.
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