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23 Jun, 2007 09:56

Deal reached on EU treaty

27 leaders from European Union countries have agreed to a draft treaty after marathon negotiations in Brussels. An agreement was seen as vital for the EU, after years of disagreements about how to manage the group's expansion from 15 to 27 members.

The last stumbling block to a treaty – Poland's refusal to accept changed voting rights – was overcome late on friday night.

The negotiations were aimed at finding an agreement on how to draw up a new EU treaty to replace the draft constitution that was rejected by voters in France and the Netherlands in 2005.

After the European bloc's enlargement to 27 member states, its leaders faced the question of how to ensure the EU's efficient work in the years ahead.

The new deal was vital to enable the bloc to tackle challenges such as global warming and create conditions for future expansion.

“We want the new member states not to give arguments for those who are against this great re-unification of Europe. So we are asking all the member states but also the new member states to show that those that pretend it was a mistake – the enlargement – they were wrong,” commented Jose Manuel Barroso.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who was chairing the summit, struggled to break Poland's opposition to the new treaty which would cut Warsaw's voting power and give more say to big countries. At one point, she threatened to draft the treaty regardless of Poland's objections.

In the end Polish President Lech Kaczynski backed down.

“We really were fighting but we also encountered solidarity. The strive for success was something that was observed on everybody's part and Poland understood this. If Poland hadn't understood this, the successful result would not have been achievable,” the president said.

“We succeeded in keeping the Poles talking with us and that hope means the summit will end successfully,” said Mirek Topolanek, Prime Minister of Czech Republic.

The drafting of the new governing treaty is expected to begin in the coming months with a goal of having it in place by 2009.

Dmitry Oreshkin, a political analyst, gave his perspective on the summit's impact on the EU's future.

“What happened in the European Union is very important for Russia. Not that everybody understands it now. Our political culture, national culture, political elites' culture have roots stretching to the mono-centric imperial state. And we can see the states with a different more flexible structure of relations between territories and all successful. In the U.S., each state has well-established rights. And only part of these rights is transferred to the federal government,” the analyst said.

“And something absolutely new – super national, quasinational – is being formed in Europe. States negotiate there for a long time to form a common structure which is useful to everyone. If the system works, and I think it will, the European Union will gain even more infrastructural advantages. This domestic political decision aimed at the benefit of all the participants is a very important event. Therefore, Russia participates in a completion of the two approaches of state-building – a hard unitary model or a flexible one. I believe a flexible model is more efficient. And it's very important for us to take a look at the European experience,” Mr Oreshkin concluded.