Aznar fights for votingrights at EU summit

12th December 2003, Comments 0 comments

12 December 2003, BRUSSELS - Prime minister Jose Maria Aznar was Friday heading for a battle with other European Union leaders over voting rights for Spain.

12 December 2003

BRUSSELS - Prime minister Jose Maria Aznar was Friday heading for a battle with other European Union leaders over voting rights for Spain.

Leaders of all the EU countries were expected to have a difficult weekend of talks on an EU constitution, with a row over members' voting rights topping the list of divisive issues.

The summit in Brussels of the 15-nation European Union and 10 future members kicks off with an agenda covering less controversial issues, such as international policy questions mostly centering on the Middle East and Iraq, and debate on economic growth initiatives and defense.

The discussion were then expected to turn to haggling over the make-up of the EU's first constitution.

Voting rights in the Council of Ministers was expected to be the most difficult issue to resolve.

The main bone of contention is a promise won by Poland and Spain during the exhausting negotiations in Nice in 2000 which gives them 27 votes each on the EU's executive body, the Council of Ministers.

This compares with 29 for Germany, which has twice the population of each of the two countries.

The new constitution, drafted over 17 months by a special convention, tries to redress the balance by introducing a "double majority" system of voting - seen to favour big states like Britain, France and Germany.

Before heading into the summit, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder said participants at the gathering must work out an agreement "with substance" over the constitution.

[Copyright EFE with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news

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