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Thursday, January 25, 2007

Swedish secrets uncovered

The Swedish press has been awash with rumours that Angela Merkel sent a letter to the Swedish Government which - among other things - set out how the Swedes could go about avoiding holding a referendum on the EU Constitution. The intrigue was largely created by the Swedish Government's insistence that the letter was secret and should remain confidential - running counter to the convention that all official documents are should be made public.

Swedish online news site Europaportalen has got hold of a leaked copy of the letter. Unfortunately, as with most of these things, the reality isn't quite as interesting as the rumours. Merkel is simply asking Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt to appoint an adviser "who enjoys your confidence" to take part in the discussions which will draw up the Berlin Declaration and will attempt to revive the EU Constitution.

Of greater interest is the "tentative schedule" that Merkel attaches to the letter. The "focal points" (advisers/sherpas) will focus on drawing up the declaration until March. Attention will only turn to the Constitution after that - first with a gathering of heads of government "on the margins of the celebrations". The Germans are obviously hoping to ram the thing through in under three months - although much will depend on the outcome of the French Presidential elections.

The Germans are reported to be pulling out the diplomatic stops - they have already identified the Poles, Czechs and the Brits as the problem countries and are threatening them with "isolation" unless they fall into line. It should be an interesting few months...

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