German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Thursday that she still has a “passionate interest” in implementing a European Union reform treaty rejected by Irish voters, and dismissed suggestions that the response should be a “two-speed” Europe.
Addressing parliament before an EU summit, Merkel also made clear that Germany opposes countering the shock of rising oil prices by cutting fuel taxes, an idea pushed by France’s president. Merkel played a key role in drawing up the so-called Lisbon Treaty, which must be ratified by all 27 EU members but was voted down in an Irish referendum. It was designed to make the EU more efficient, strengthening its voice in the world and underpinning plans for further expansion.
The chancellor said Ireland must be part of the solution, describing European unity as a “valuable asset” and dismissing ideas of a “two-speed” Europe that would differentiate between those pushing for more integration and those more skeptical. “Discussions about a two-speed Europe, a core Europe, absolutely do not help us in this situation,” she said. “We cannot have an expanded European Union and keep saying at the first difficulty, now we’ll have a core Europe.” However, Merkel also insisted that ratification of the troubled treaty must continue in countries that have yet to do so, and declared that “we need the Lisbon Treaty.” “Those who don’t want the United States or Russia or other countries always to hear 27 European opinions before they know what Europe wants must now fight for the Lisbon Treaty,” she said. Pointing to the importance of offering countries in the western Balkans hope of EU membership, she added: “these are reasons why we all must have a passionate interest in the Lisbon Treaty taking effect quickly.” “Europe cannot afford another pause for reflection,” Merkel told lawmakers. “Europe also cannot afford any horse-trading, but naturally we must and we will listen to the arguments of the Irish.”
The summit also is expected to address the fallout from soaring oil prices, which have triggered protests in several EU countries. Merkel made clear she thinks little of a French suggestion that part of the value-added tax should be suspended. “The most important European answer to the rise in oil prices, from my point of view, is more energy efficiency and the development of renewable energy,” she said. “Interventions, particularly those of a financial policy nature that are discussed again and again and ultimately obstruct the necessary adaptation to changed market conditions, should be avoided from our point of view.” (The Economic Times)