Tactical considerations were at the forefront of the discussion, especially in view of the number of major events ahead, notwithstanding the uncertainty surrounding the date of the Irish referendum on the Treaty of Nice. The window of opportunity seems to be open between the Brussels European Council on October 24-25 and the presentation of a draft outlines of a constitutional Treaty on which the Convention's Praesidium has started working on with an eye on the plenary session on October 28-29. Some Commissioners, taking their lead from Franz Fischler, argued for a pro-active attitude and said they wanted the Commission's contribution to be adopted on the day before the European summit; others thought it more prudent to wait for the Convention's last session in October. In any case, it was decided to inform the Convention's President Valery Giscard d'Estaing, indeed to invite him to the College's meeting if the Commission is to approve its contribution before the European Council during which the Convention's President has to report to EU leaders on the progress of his work.

While there seems to be a general consensus that the work of the Convention has now reached cruising speed and should soon be able to move up a gear into the political negotiation phase, the two Commissioners who sit on the Praesidium, Michel Barnier and Antonio Vitorino, said they were worried about Convention President Valery Giscard d'Estaing's apparent concern to take account of the opinions of Heads of State and Government, and especially the big countries' leaders. It is in this context that the proposals for investing an EU President with executive powers has to be looked at (see separate article, this European Report, same Section). This apparent danger clearly fuelled the debate at the week-end. Commissioners are worried that this faceless President whose job has yet to be agreed will do no more than head up an EU diplomatic corps but, at the same time, want to control the EU's whole foreign affairs portfolio, including some exclusive Community competences like trade...

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