"Then the picture could have changed completely…" quoth he, suggesting that the situation on the EU treaty could be markedly different by the time of the European council in Brussels in two weeks time.
That was to reckon with out Polish prime minister, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, who is living up to his reputation for adding immeasurably to the gaiety of life – with a declaration that it would take "around one year" to negotiate a new EU constitution, and in particular a new system of voting for the EU member states.
"We do not subscribe to the idea of trying to resolve important issues about Europe's future in a few days," he told a news conference held jointly with visiting Austrian Chancellor Alfred Gusenbauer.
Kaczynski has threatened to prevent the IGC getting down to business if the list of topics for debate does not meet with its approval, in particular revising EU voting mechanisms. "I hope that we will not be placed in a situation in which we are obliged to not support the mandate (of the intergovernmental conference), which would mean that there would not be a mandate," he told the assembled hacks.
Somebody, though, had better tell him what happened to Margaret Thatcher when she went to Milan in 1985, determined to avoid an IGC which would lead to a new treaty. It was then that she learned from Bettino Craxi that an IGC could be convened by a simple majority of member state leaders. Kaczynski will be no more able to block an IGC settling its own mandate than Thatcher was before him.
It looks as if EU parliament president Hans-Gert Poettering also needs a lesson on how the EU works.
He has proclaimed that Europe will slip into a political crisis if Poland blocks an agreement at the European Council on how to proceed with the failed EU constitution. "Poland will put Europe into a crisis with this veto," he says. "Poland would harm itself the most if it uses this veto ... Poland needs solidarity too, after all."
Excuse me, Mr Poettering, in setting up an IGC, no country has a veto.
However, it looks like Poettering needs straightening up on a few things. "No small or middle-sized country should impose its will on another country," he adds. Does that mean it is acceptable for a large country to impose its will on another country?