My Bulgarian ‘assistant’ still won’t let me forget Chirac’s last faux pas: that the biggest favour the candidate countries could do for themselves was to stay quiet. It looks like we’re going down the same road one more time. I really don’t think it is possible to effectively ‘buy’ opinions. I mean in the short term it may work as a tactic, but long term this will lead to more, not less, resentment and tension. I already feel that the Swedish euro vote was more a political statement than an economic one. The Netherlands are getting louder and louder in their denunciation of stability pact ‘flexibility’, and now the aid-recipients are effectively being told to put up and shut up. This is not a very auspicious start for a new constitution, nor does it offer a very encouraging insight into how it might work.
Germany and France have issued a thinly-veiled warning to Spain and Poland that they risk losing billions of euros of European Union aid if they disrupt talks on a new EU constitution. The tough message came as 25 European leaders began negotiations in Rome on the new constitutional treaty, which they hope to agree by December. The biggest obstacle to a deal is the insistence by Spain and Poland that they should wield similar voting power to larger countries, such as Germany.
Jos? Mar?a Aznar, the Spanish prime minister, and Leszek Miller, his Polish counterpart, made it clear on Saturday that they would not accept any treaty which reduced their influence. Their position has infuriated Gerhard Schr?der of Germany and Jacques Chirac of France, who both support the draft treaty drawn up last June by Val?ry Giscard d’Estaing’s European Convention. Mr Schroder and Mr Chirac used identical words to connect the treaty negotiations and next year’s debate on future EU funding: “Of course there’s a link,” they both told reporters.
Source: Financial Times