The German Ambassador to the UK, Wolfgang Ischinger, made a short address on Thursday at The Scottish Parliament, discussing the priorities of the current German Presidency of the European Union. He also answered questions from the public, including academics and private and public sector organisations.
The German Presidency has a number of high profile goals, the most prominent of which is to obtain a consensus on the future of the European Union’s constitutional treaty by the end of June 2007 and the adoption of a common EU energy policy at the European Council summit on 8-9 March 2007.
Herr Ischinger spoke initially about the European Union and the United States' respective roles as global economic players, noting that by 2030 China will, as a single actor, have a larger economy than either the EU or the US. Herr Ischinger also spoke about the waning influence of America and how, where American leadership is now struggling to remain credible, Europe should have the confidence to take over on the international stage. In Herr Ischinger's opinion the US moment of unipolarity has passed, and this is obvious despite the rhetoric of American neoconservatives.
Germany aims to produce a Road Map for the European constitution by the end of its presidency; such a map would serve as an outline of procedure and opinion towards the European constitution, rejected by France and the Netherlands in the past. Any constitution would have to represent a compromise between British Eurosceptics and German Europhiles. The important issue, according to the Ambassador, was whether or not the document could retain the label of a constitution. Fifteen countries have ratified the constitutional treaty so far, and it was noted that, while minority opinions are rightfully respected in democracies, so too must majority opinions. With 15 ratifications and 3 countries on their way to ratification, a majority of the current EU 27 members have in fact ratified the constitutional treaty.
Herr Ischinger finished on a positive note by emphasising the important part the UK has to play in Europe, and how help, support and advice from the United Kingdom has fundamentally shaped the European Union.