Flu wrecks crucial Barcelona EU summit

11th February 2005, Comments 0 comments

11 February 2005, BARCELONA - Two of Europe's most important political leaders have had to bow out of a summit in Barcelona planned to launch an 18-month referendum season which will decide the fate of the EU constitution.

11 February 2005

BARCELONA - Two of Europe's most important political leaders have had to bow out of a summit in Barcelona planned to launch an 18-month referendum season which will decide the fate of the EU constitution.

Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi and German Chancellor Gerhard Shroeder both pulled out after suffering from flu. British prime minister Tony Blair will not be attending either.

The leaders of France and Spain hope to give the yes campaign a boost with their symbolic joint appearance at a rally in the city tonight.

All four leaders were officially to have visited Barcelona to endorse the yes campaign in the Spanish referendum on 20 February, the first of 10 polls in Europe.

The summit in the Catalan capital was to start a campaign to enthuse European voters who appear indifferent or hostile - but rarely enthusiastic - about the constitution.

Jacques Chirac, the French president and José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, the Spanish prime minister, will still hold the summit in Barcelona.

In reality, Zapatero should have nothing to worry about ahead of next Sunday's poll in Spain, where voters believe the EU has helped turn their country into one of Europe's wealthiest, and are all but certain to vote yes.

An opinion poll released on Thursday said just over half – or 51 percent - of Spaniards would vote for the Constitution.

If hardly anyone can be bothers to vote in Spain, which has seen almost EUR 90 billion of European money pumped into its economy since it joined in 1986, then the yes side will face an even greater struggle in other countries.

[Copyright EFE with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news

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