Angela Merkel 'convinced' EU needs a constitution

11th October 2006, Comments 0 comments

11 October 2006, Berlin (dpa) - Chancellor Angela Merkel called Wednesday for reviving the failed European Union constitution but admitted that next year's German EU presidency would not achieve any breakthrough on the issue. "I am firmly convinced we need a constitution," said Merkel after talks with European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso about Germany's programme for the EU presidency, which Berlin holds during the first half of 2007. The EU's draft constitution was last year rejected by voter

11 October 2006

Berlin (dpa) - Chancellor Angela Merkel called Wednesday for reviving the failed European Union constitution but admitted that next year's German EU presidency would not achieve any breakthrough on the issue.

"I am firmly convinced we need a constitution," said Merkel after talks with European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso about Germany's programme for the EU presidency, which Berlin holds during the first half of 2007.

The EU's draft constitution was last year rejected by voters in both France and the Netherlands. This torpedoed the project given that all 25 EU members must approve the treaty for it to enter into force.

Dutch leaders have called for the text to be radically reduced in scope and for removal of the name "constitution". France is not expected to make any new moves on the constitution until after French presidential elections in May 2007.

Merkel admitted that Germany would therefore not be able to clinch any final constitutional deal during its EU presidency which ends on June 30, 2007.

Instead, Berlin would seek to hammer out a "roadmap" for further moves on the treaty, she said.

The German leader rejected Dutch calls for a stripped-down text.

"It must be something which deserves the name constitution and not merely an institutional set of rules," said the chancellor.

Turning to other matters, Merkel said the German EU presidency would hold a special summit in Berlin on March 25, 2007 to mark the 50th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome which created the bloc.

Other priorities for the German presidency would be economic reform, job creation, energy security and deregulation, she said.

The EU will hold summits with the United States, Russia, Japan and Canada during the first half of 2007, said Merkel, adding that she would work on planning an EU-Africa summit to be held after the German presidency.

Merkel said she wanted to improve long-term EU cooperation by working closely with the two countries which hold the bloc's presidency after Germany: Portugal and then Slovenia.

Barroso cautioned that hopes for the presidency under Germany - the EU's biggest economy - should not be exaggerated.

"There are great expectations about the German presidency but it is not fair to put all the weight and burden on Germany," he said.

DPA

Subject: German news

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