Remember that book by Matthias Matussek we fisked some time ago? Well, a telling quote from it was that Weltverbesserungsmassnahmen – measures to improve the world – were supposedly a very German notion. I’m not sure about this – I suspect they are more a (very broadly) left-wing notion, although one that must include the Whig tradition. Anyway, Matussek might have a point.
Germany took over the EU Presidency on the 1st of January, which puts Angela Merkel in the chair of the Committee of all the Committees, a position I’ve said before she is ideally suited to. And what an agenda she brings with her. Apparently, the European Constitution is coming out of its closet in order to…wait for it…”give Europe a soul”.
Of course, what makes up this soul will be dependent on how much of the original treaty will pass the French and Dutch parliaments, not to mention a British political landscape almost impossible to predict. That, in turn, suggests – as do Merkel’s own justifications for the revival – that the revived treaty will be a catalogue of minimal consensus. Not that there is anything wrong with that.
What seems more dubious is how this will add up to a soul. That suggests a lot of windbaggery and propositions likely to be logic-chopped in different and wrong ways in every language and national context involved. I’m tempted to suggest that, by contrast to the US Constitution, that for the EU shouldn’t have a preamble – it only encourages them.
Merkel is also out for improved economic relations with the US, which will depend heavily on the fag-end of the Bush administration’s psychology. (You might usefully ask if an effort at a multilateral fix for the dollar imbalances could be included in here. Perhaps the trade side could be a useful side payment?) She has also announced keenness to reduce the use of Russian natural gas, though nothing more. And her sidekick, Wolfgang SchÃ¤uble, seems to want a “dialogue” with Muslims. Well, the sort of dialogue CDU politicians usually like – where one party says “yes” a lot. I thought this might be interesting, but in fact it’s just the usual stuff about the Enlightenment, “burkas” (he probably doesn’t mean them, because nobody wears them here, but the signifier is what counts) and such.
All of which means: CDU and CSU, Wolfi’s still available… Not that this would improve the world very much.