Merkel, Prodi on mission to save EU constitution

14th June 2006, Comments 0 comments

14 June 2006, BERLIN - German Chancellor Angela Merkel met Italy's new Prime Minister Romano Prodi in Berlin Wednesday as part of efforts by the two leaders to rescue Europe's constitution, which was voted down in two key referenda in the Netherlands and France last year.

14 June 2006

BERLIN - German Chancellor Angela Merkel met Italy's new Prime Minister Romano Prodi in Berlin Wednesday as part of efforts by the two leaders to rescue Europe's constitution, which was voted down in two key referenda in the Netherlands and France last year.

But speaking at a press conference following their meeting, Merkel indicated she was planning to take only small and cautious steps towards reviving the proposed constitution.

"Now cleverness is called for," she said when referring to the political timetable surrounding the constitution's possible revival, adding that the process had to be brought forward.

During the press joint conference, Prodi also added his name to the list of leading European political figures calling on the Paris- based Euronext share market to forge an alliance with Deutsche Boerse, the operator of the Frankfurt stock exchange, to form a new pan-European bourse.

Euronext has accepted a takeover offer by the New York Stock Exchange, as a result clearing the way for the first trans-Atlantic share market.

But said Prodi: "We want to work together to strengthen Europe's financial markets."

Prodi's visit to Berlin came ahead of this week's EU leaders' summit in Brussels and the buildup to Germany take over of the EU's rotating presidency in January 2007, when Merkel is expected to try to place the constitution back on Europe's agenda.

In particular, this could form part of the run-up to a special summit of EU leaders next year marking the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Rome which launched the creation of what was then called the European Common Market and has since grown into the European Union.

The celebrations marking the signing of the treaty, which are to take place in Germany, could represent a "new start in the construction of Europe," said Prodi after its meeting with Merkel in her office in central Berlin.

Both Prodi and Merkel also made clear that they believed close cooperation was necessary in order to push on with the European constitution project.

Prodi, who was previously a European Commission president, also indicated that tensions eased between Rome and Berlin over reform of the United Nations.

Italy's previous government had criticized Berlin's ambitions to join the United Nations' Security Council as part of reform of the New York-based body.

But the Italian leader said the issue, which is not considered to be a central part of Merkel's foreign policy, could now be resolved by agreement.

With Prodi's visit to Berlin also coinciding with Germany hosting the World Cup, Merkel invited Prodi to return to the German capital next month for the football championships final.

DPA

Subject: German news

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