France and Germany at Maastricht: Politics and Negotiations to Create the European Union

By Colette Mazzucelli | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VI

Mind over Maastricht: Leadership and Negotiation in the European Council1

For the politician, the constant aim is to be in the Cabinet, and to be the first there. This exercise is inevitably linked to a certain presentation of things, and the presentation counts as much, if not more, than the things themselves. Everything revolves around the struggle for nomination; and the object of power, the problem to settle, is forgotten. I have not known a great politician who is not highly egocentric, and for reason: if he had not been, he never would have imposed his image and his person. I could not be so, not because I was modest, but because one cannot concentrate on a thing and on oneself. This thing was always the same for me: to make men work together, to show them that beyond their differences and over their borders, they have a common interest.

Men accept change only in necessity; they see necessity only in crisis.

Jean Monnet, Mémoires

The Maastricht European Council took place on 9-10 December 1991 in a small Dutch town at the crossroads of Europe. The agenda was full despite the fact that civil servants, central bankers, finance and foreign ministers had discussed the finer points of the texts on EMU and political union. Only the decisions that had to be made at the highest political level to reach an accord on the Treaties remained. During the negotiations, nine larger issues dominated the agenda. As always, the devil was in the detail. In this sense, the Maastricht European Council could be likened both to a 12-dimensional game of chess and a family tug of war.2 The nine agenda issues left for the European leaders to settle were: 1. the transition to the final phase of EMU; 2. decision

1Some of the ideas for the contents in this chapter are taken from Barbara Kellerman and Jeffrey Z. Rubin, eds., Leadership and Negotiation in the Middle East (New York: Praeger, 1988).

2Boris Johnson, “Small Room That Could Shut the Door on Plans for Europe,” The Daily Telegraph, December 12, 1991.

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