After what apparantly was a day full of tense meetings and difficult negotiations, European Union leaders last night finally agreed on a draft for the new European Constitution. Spain’s President said he was “satisfied” with the final outcome.
Throughout the two days of negotiation it looked increasingly unlikely that any agreement would be reached at all, and reports filtered through of confrontations between various countries. In Spain this was perceived to be new president Rodriguez Zapatero’s first big test in Europe, and when he left for Brussels 2 days ago accompanied by Spanish foreign secretary Miguel Angel Moratinos, Zapatero said he was determined to contribute in a constructive way to a final agreement and he was confident that Spain’s role within the EU would be strengthened as a result.
He also said it was very important for this meeting not to end in a stalemate as previous meetings have done.
Spain has lost the influence it was given by the 2000 Nice Treaty (something the PP representatives are bound to pounce on today), but has gained ground with respect to the draft agreement proposed, and rejected, during the Italian EU presidency last year.
The Spanish press more or less echoes the satisfaction expressed by Zapatero late last night. El Mundo says “In this new Europe, Spain is small among the large powers and large among the small ones” which is a good way of putting it.
All the main Spanish newspapers applaud the historic draft constitution, and give most of the credit for it to Bernie Ahern and his determination and diplomatic capacity (by all accounts he certainly deserves a good sleep tonight).