[JURIST] German Chancellor Angela Merkel [official website, in German; BBC profile] told the European Parliament [speech transcript, in German] at a session in Strasbourg Wednesday that EU member nations should ratify the European constitution [official website; JURIST news archive] before the next round of European Parliament elections [Wikipedia backgrounder] scheduled for June 2009, saying "failure would be a historic mistake." Merkel emphasized the advantages of the proposed constitution, including the clear demarcation of the powers of the Union and member states and efficient transnational government.
Merkel attended [press release] the Strasbourg meeting to present Germany's Presidency Work Programme [PDF text], the product of joint Germany, Portugal, and Slovenia efforts to coordinate the next eighteen months of European economic policy. Also speaking [transcript] at the Strasbourg parliamentary meeting, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso called on member states to sign the pending Berlin Declaration, which he described as a roadmap, "which should create the momentum to settle the institutional question."
Merkel promised to put the constitution back on the EU agenda [JURIST report] upon assuming the six-month Presidency on January 1, 2007. She announced her intent to set a timetable for constitutional ratification in October, though responses have been lukewarm [JURIST reports] in some quarters, especially from aspirants in the upcoming French presidential elections. Consideration of the charter has been on hold since it was rejected by voters in France and the Netherlands [JURIST reports] last year. AFP has more.