Berlin rejects EUconstitution referendum

19th July 2004, Comments 0 comments

19 July 2004, BERLIN - German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's government remains opposed to holding a referendum on the European Union's planned constitution, a government spokesman said Monday.

19 July 2004

BERLIN - German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's government remains opposed to holding a referendum on the European Union's planned constitution, a government spokesman said Monday.

There has been growing pressure on Berlin to hold a vote after France, in a surprise move earlier this month, joined Britain in announcing a popular vote on the European Union constitutional treaty agreed by leaders last month.

"We need to be realistic," said deputy spokesman Hans-Hermann Langguth in reference to the extreme difficulty in changing Germany's constitution - a requirement to allow a referendum to go ahead.

Given that a two-thirds majority would be required in both houses of parliament, it appears highly unlikely that Germans will be allowed a direct vote.

Chancellor Schroeder's ruling Social Democrats (SPD) and their Greens coalition partner are opposed to a referendum.

The main opposition Christian Democratic alliance (CDU/CSU) also is mainly against, but appears to be in flux with Bavarian Prime Minister Edmund Stoiber at the weekend calling for a referendum.

So far seven of the EU's 25 member states have announced they will hold a referendum on the treaty. They are: Britain, Denmark, France, Ireland, Luxembourg, Portugal and Spain.

In addition, Belgium, the Czech Republic and Poland have said they may hold national votes on the constitution.

The treaty must be ratified by October 2006 by all member states either through referendums or via simple vote in parliament as is planned by countries like Germany.

If one or more countries fail to ratify the treaty then the constitution cannot enter into force.

In such a case a member state might be asked to hold a second referendum or to leave the EU.

But it could also mean the ambitious constitution would simply be scrapped.

Agreed after more than two years of negotiations, the EU constitution streamlines decision making, boosts defence cooperation and gives the bloc a foreign minister to provide it with more global clout.

DPA

Subject: German news

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