Berlin representsParis at EU talks

9th February 2004, Comments 0 comments

9 February 2004 , BERLIN - French President Jacques Chirac said Monday he had entrusted presentation of France's views to the Irish European Union presidency with German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder to underline deepening Franco-German ties. "Our positions on European Union themes are identical," said Chirac after a meeting with Schroeder at Genshagen palace near Berlin. Schroeder was due in Dublin later Monday for talks with Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern who currently holds the rotating EU presidency.

9 February 2004

BERLIN - French President Jacques Chirac said Monday he had entrusted presentation of France's views to the Irish European Union presidency with German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder to underline deepening Franco-German ties.

"Our positions on European Union themes are identical," said Chirac after a meeting with Schroeder at Genshagen palace near Berlin.

Schroeder was due in Dublin later Monday for talks with Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern who currently holds the rotating EU presidency.

This is the second time Paris and Berlin have formally taken such a step. Last year Chirac represented Schroeder at an EU summit in Brussels - a then unprecedented move which drew headlines for its symbolism.

The French leader told reporters that allowing Germany to serve as France's ambassador in talks with Ahern was meant to illustrate the new quality of Franco-German ties.

Schroeder and Chirac have forged a close political relationship since last year when they both opposed the Iraq war.

Following Monday's talks, both leaders insisted the EU should hammer out a new constitution but refused to offer any compromise positions aimed at improving prospects for a deal.

EU leaders failed to agree a constitution at a summit last December after a show-down over power which pitted France and Germany against Spain and future Union member Poland.

Schroeder said both leaders wanted constitutional talks to succeed.

"But not at all costs," he stressed.

Chirac said Paris and Berlin insisted that a new constitution had to include a double majority voting system.

This would boost the voting clout of EU heavyweights Germany and France and was opposed by Spain and Poland which wanted to keep an existing voting formula agreed in 2000 which gives them more power.

Chirac and Schroeder are also sticking with demands for shrinking the European Commission - the bloc's executive. This is opposed by many smaller EU nations.

Finally, Paris and Berlin want to reduce decisions made by unanimous vote and shift to more qualified majority voting.

Schroeder and Chirac also said they were sticking with demands for a freeze in the EU budget until 2013.

France, Germany, Britain, the Netherlands, Sweden and Austria - all of which are net contributors to the EU - made the budget freeze demand last December in an open letter.

EU leaders meet for their next summit in Brussels on 25 to 26 March.

 

DPA
Subject: German news

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