German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder said Berlin “could agree” to the draft European Constitution prepared by the Convention presidency but would like to see certain changes, while congratulating Convention president Valery Giscard d’Estaing on the “difficult and serious task” which he had accomplished.
Schroeder was speaking after a meeting in Berlin (12/6/03) with the President of the European Council, Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis.
Simitis, who has almost concluded his tour of European capitals in preparation for the Thessaloniki European Council, observed that the proposed draft was “the best possible and practicable comprise solution at the present time”.
Expressing his government’s “great satisfaction” over the “first-rate work” of the Greek Presidency, Schroeder said the policy objective was for the Intergovernmental Conference to conclude its work prior to European elections in 2004. He also stressed that the draft prepared by the Convention would form the basis of discussion at the IGC.
Referring to the initiative of the four EU Member States for a common European defence, Schroeder stressed that the process was open to the other EU countries that wished to participate. Replying to questions on the transatlantic relationship, Schroeder noted that EU-US relations were based on common values and therefore differing views could be dealt with in “a friendly manner”.
On prospects for the shaping of a European foreign and defence policy, Schroeder said “Europeans should be able to determine what happens on their continent, on their own responsibility and without this having any negative repercussions for the NATO Alliance”.
“Europe must have its own identity, but remain within NATO and help strengthen the Alliance rather than weaken it,” he said.
Replying to a question on the revision of the Common Agricultural Policy, Simitis clarified that the issue of agricultural reform would not be discussed at the Thessaloniki European Council.