What are the chances of EU leaders reaching agreement at the June EU Summit?
Gideon Rachman informs us that although German foreign policy academics are fairly optimistic that Merkel can broker a deal, Berlin’s foreign ministry officials are less confident. They are giving odds of no more than 50-50.
Contrary to what the European Voice said the other day, of the three ‘problem’ countries – Britain, the Czech Republic and Poland (now apparently referred to by German officials as “the three crazies”) – it is Poland that is viewed as the biggest challenge. Specifically, Berlin fears that Warsaw’s demands on changes to the voting weight system proposed in the original Constitution could unravel the basis for agreement. If the matter of voting weights is opened up for discussion, this could open up a Pandora’s box of other issues that will be put back on the table.
“Poland has just one request – but that request is dynamite”, said one German diplomat.
The Poles seem to be sticking to their guns on this issue. Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski said "We are ready to die for this" (Echoing Jan Rokita's call for "Nice or Death" during the Constitution negotiations).
On the other hand, there’s still the possibility of Warsaw being bought off. According to El Mundo, Merkel hopes to win over Poland through a ‘carrot and stick’ approach, using €60bn of EU funds and a possible clause on energy solidarity as bargaining chips with Warsaw.
Meanwhile, we are now beginning to see a consensus crystallize around the idea of Sarkozy’s mini-Constitution, which appeared to have already received the consent of Berlin. Even the Belgians, Italians and Spanish now seem ready to fall into line behind the French idea, despite their previously strong opposition to anything that smacked of a “minimalist” treaty. Reuters quoted a senior EU official earlier in the week as saying: "Merkel knows what she's doing and the puzzle's mostly done".