Eminent Europeans like nothing better than the chance to hold earnest debates about the future of Europe. So the celebrations to mark the 50th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome in Berlin on March 25th are being eagerly anticipated. I can see it now – the Brandenburg Gate; the Ode to Joy; the politicians linking hands; the fireworks. And – of course – there will be a wonderful “Berlin declaration” celebrating the past and future of the European Union.
The declaration’s drafters seem to be behaving a bit like a student with an essay crisis. They have still to produce a draft. But they are promising something that will be short – two to three pages – and memorable. They realise that the chances of anything memorable being produced by a committee are close to zero. So one idea is that the whole thing should be delegated to one very clever person, with a bit of a literary flair. The said person will be locked into a room overnight, with a flask of coffee and a bottle of whisky and will be expected to emerge with something at least as good as Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence.
But who this person is – and how they are doing – remains a closely guarded secret. Meanwhile, the clock is ticking. The only word out of the German government so far is that the Berlin Declaration will contain a lot about Europe’s social mission – which sounds deeply unpromising.