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Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Fun in Berlin

The so-called sherpas (EU leaders' envoys to behind-closed-doors talks on reviving the Constituiton) are meeting together tomorrow in Berlin.

As well as the big picture stuff, they are supposed to be discussing what to put in the Berlin Declaration on 25 March. But that rather turns on what is going to happen in May in the French elections.

Brussels opinion seems divided between two schools of thought. "Camp A" say it will be a load of bland flannel, probably rather along the lines of the "five points" suggested by Barroso the other day. "Camp B" also expect the flannel count to be pretty high, but expect at least a few bigger points to be dealt with - the logic being that the more that the declaration can be seen to have "responded" to voters concerns the easier it will be to push through a snap deal in June on the "purely technical and institutional" (of course) points that EU leaders are obsessed with: making it easier to pass legislation, an EU foreign minister etc.

If they are going to come back to the big questions later anyway (the Royal route), the Berlin declaration can be a load of piffle. But if you are going for a quick and dirty deal (the Sarko option) they may feel the need to do rather more with the declaration.

The UK Government are purpoting to be surpremely uninterested in all this, hoping that it will remain someone else's political problem. The Commission, meanwhile, are looking to get back control of the initiative, with their "review of the internal market" now scheduled for publication around March. (Do you think they might find that they "need more power to complete the single market"? - we're just guessing here...)

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