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18 Jun, 2007 00:48

EU Constitution remains elusive

The foreign ministers of the 27 member states of the European Union are meeting in Luxembourg for a three-day conference ahead of the crucial EU summit to be held in Germany. One of the hottest topics on the agenda is the process of European reform.

The summit is being billed as critical for the future of the European Constitution, which has currently been on hold for two years, after it was rejected two years ago by referendums in France and the Netherlands.

Yet the signs are not altogether promising, as even Germany, which currently holds the EU presidency, is not sure there will be success.

“We still have some serious problems to solve before the council and an agreement will be possible if people are ready to compromise. And this is not the first treaty the EU has had to negotiate, there is a long history before that,” stated German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

The Constitutional Treaty, an agreement aimed to provide the framework for developing the European Union, was agreed on in 2004, after two years of complex negotiations. When it came to be ratified by each nation, it was promptly rejected by France and Holland, where it was put before the people in a referendum. Germany is now proposing to replace the charter with a less ambitious treaty.

In an attempt to resolve some of the most divisive issues, European Union foreign ministers held closed-door talks in Luxembourg on Sunday. However, while talks may have served some purpose, it was clear that no general accord was reached.

“As far as the other proposals are concerned, our stance mirrors the stance of the Czech coalition. We're positively oriented towards the Dutch proposal to strengthen the powers of national parliaments, as well as the Polish proposal on vote re-calculation,” voiced his country’s position Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek.

The new version of the charter should be endorsed by all 27 EU nations by 2009, when the next EU elections will be held. However, that remains a distant prospect for what has become a process fraught with discord and rejection.

Poland and Britain are under pressure from other members to drop their opposition to the new treaty.

Warsaw insists it will veto any deal that weakens its voting rights. 

German Foreign Minister says all the EU nations stand to lose if an agreement is not reached at the summit.

“I think you have all realised that the final match for the future of the European constitution has begun. As I said before and I repeat this here and now, there will only be winners or losers. So, if there is no compromise, no agreement to be reached at the council later this week, everyone would have lost,” Frank-Walter Steinmeier said.