Thanks to Jan’s EU Blog the German version of the Berlin declaration is online! As expected, it is a rather non-binding document which also sounds a bit pathetic. References to more controversial issues such as the “Euro”, “open frontiers” and the “European social model” have also been included. References to “further enlargement” and “Christian heritage” do not appear in the text. The short document is supposed to kick-start a discussion on the future of Europe and the development of “renewed common foundation of the EU” (instead of the word ‘constitution’) . It also contains a commitment to agree on a institutional reform until the European Parliament election in 2009. However, the success of this whole initiative depends a lot on the follow-up discussions during the next months and, of course the outcome of the French presidential elections (and we should not forget Gordon Brown).
The drafting process was heavily criticised because of its rather closed and diplomatic character. The declaration will be signed during the informal EU summit in Berlin this weekend. In order to emphasise the importance of the EU institutions only the three EU presidents (Commission, Council, Parliament) are going to sign the document. One could also argue that not every member state supports wholeheartedly the declaration… But according to Spiegel online Angela Merkel managed, during a last minute telephone call, to convince the Czech government to support the document.
For centuries Europe has been an idea, holding out hope of peace and understanding. That hope has been fulfilled. European unification has made peace and prosperity possible. It has brought about a sense of community and overcome differences. Each Member State has helped to unite Europe and to strengthen democracy and the rule of law. Thanks to the yearning for freedom of the peoples of Central and Eastern Europe the unnatural division of Europe is now consigned to the past. European integration shows that we have learnt the painful lessons of a history marked by bloody conflict. Today we live together as was never possible before. We, the citizens of the European Union, have united for the better.
In the European Union, we are turning our common ideals into reality: for us, the individual is paramount. His dignity is inviolable. His rights are inalienable. Women and men enjoy equal rights. We are striving for peace and freedom, for democracy and the rule of law, for mutual respect and shared responsibility, for prosperity and security, for tolerance and participation, for justice and solidarity.
We have a unique way of living and working together in the European Union. This is expressed through the democratic interaction of the Member States and the European institutions. The European Union is founded on equal rights and mutually supportive cooperation. This enables us to strike a fair balance between Member States’ interests. We preserve in the European Union the identities and diverse traditions of its Member States. We are enriched by open borders and a lively variety of languages, cultures and regions. There are many goals which we cannot achieve on our own, but only in concert. Tasks are shared between the European Union, the Member States and their regions and local authorities.
We are facing major challenges which do not stop at national borders. The European Union is our response to these challenges. Only together can we continue to preserve our ideal of European society in future for the good of all European Union citizens. This European model combines economic success and social responsibility. The common market and the euro make us strong. We can thus shape the increasing interdependence of the global economy and evergrowing competition on international markets according to our values. Europe’s wealth lies in the knowledge and ability of its people; that is the key to growth, employment and social cohesion.
We will fight terrorism, organised crime and illegal immigration together. We stand up for liberties and civil rights also in the struggle against those who oppose them. Racism and xenophobia must never again be given any rein.
We are committed to the peaceful resolution of conflicts in the world and to ensuring that people do not become victims of war, terrorism and violence. The European Union wants to promote freedom and development in the world. We want to drive back poverty, hunger and disease. We want to continue to take a leading role in that fight. We intend jointly to lead the way in energy policy and climate protection and make our contribution to averting the global threat of climate change.
The European Union will continue to thrive both on openness and on the will of its Member States to consolidate the Union’s internal development. The European Union will continue to promote democracy, stability and prosperity beyond its borders. With European unification a dream of earlier generations has become a reality. Our history reminds us that we must protect this for the good of future generations. For that reason we must always renew the political shape of Europe in keeping with the times. That is why today, 50 years after the signing of the Treaties of Rome, we are united in our aim of placing the European Union on a renewed common basis before the European Parliament elections in 2009.
For we know, Europe is our common future.