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A key step to save the EU

After 36 hours of marathon negotiations, on the early morning of June 23rd, the EU summit in Brussels finally reached a “road map” agreement on a newly revised treaty to replace its failed constitution.

The new draft inherited the constitution's spirit of enhancing efficiency in decision-making and giving the EU a bigger role in the international arena by retaining major goals including improving the mechanism for decision-making and giving more power to the highest representative of foreign affairs. German Chancellor Angela Merkel, whose country holds the EU's rotating role as chair, declared that “we're moving out of stagnancy and reflection”. The EU will again get back on the road.

The road map, if it fails, could generate grave consequences, if not a “doomsday” for the EU. It could result in a “stagnant EU in every aspect,” as alleged by European Commission President, Jose Manuel Barroso. To avoid failure, all parties prepared beforehand, for a long-drawn-out combat during the summit. Several times, the talks were on the verge of collapse, but Barroso insisted with full determination, “we will not leave Brussels without an agreement”. As a matter of fact, in order to save the EU by restoring its constitution has become a general trend representing people's common aspirations. On the eve of the summit the European Commission released the latest findings of the Eurobarometer.

Statistics revealed that 66% of those surveyed support the proposal of a European Constitution; and among all member states, the supporters outnumbered opponents. In France and the Netherlands particularly, where voters rejected the constitution in the referendum two years ago, there was 68% and 55% support, respectively. Citizens of Poland, though regarded by other member states as “trouble makers” , turned out the most confident group in EU's future: 69% of them were in favor of the treaty. This trend demonstrates the consensus reached on the EU's future by its people after two years of deliberation. It is about time the European Constitution was saved.

The pact establishing a Constitution for Europe (TECE), commonly referred to as the European Constitution, was passed at a meeting of the leaders of EU member states in June 2004, and was meant to come into effect in November 2006. However, it was voted down in French and Dutch the 2005 referendum. Facts have proven that the EU's current decision-making mechanism is inadequate for the operation of the now 27-member organization, and has undermined its efficiency.

At the end of last year, Poland vetoed a motion on the EU's talks with Russia in the signing of a new agreement on partner collaboration relations. This move set off warning bells within EU: if things continue in this way, the EU's “unified voice” would become a castle in the clouds. Consequently, a voice arose from inside: the world is becoming fast-paced and emerging countries are catching up, so the EU cannot afford to be stagnant and must step out of this crisis and stupidity as quickly as possible. At the latest summit, member states unanimously agreed that a new round of inter-governmental meetings will be held, beginning July 23rd, to discuss details of a new draft and try to complete its formulation before the end of this year.

After being ratification by all member states, the new pact is expected to be put into operation before June 2009, at the earliest. The Constitution needs to be restored; while the final aim is to save the European Union. In today's world of diversification and economic globalization, the EU also faces challenges such as global warming, the energy crisis and nuclear non-proliferation. These challenges force EU countries to unite and rally support. May the painstaking efforts at the summit bring hope and pave a way to the future. (english.people.com.cn)