With much noise and commotion, the European Union has sidestepped catastrophe – but only just. It was damned close. In a united effort, a major crisis that would have openly divided the Union for years to come and which would have made Europe a global laughingstock was averted.
The EU ran aground two years ago when France and the Netherlands said no to the European constitution. With the new agreement, the Union has once again started to move.
While the mandate for an intergovernmental conference to develop a new treaty will create something less than a constitution, the coming treaty will go well beyond the present Treaty of Nice – provided things go according to what has been agreed. But two steep hurdles still need to be overcome: the intergovernmental conference and ratification through the national parliaments or by means of a referendum in all member states.
Still, German Chancellor Angela Merkel can be proud of what was achieved. It is her first real success in international diplomacy. That Friday night in Brussels involved very real and tough decisions. The German chancellor played for high stakes and won. She deserves respect and recognition.