Sarkozy to push for simpler EU treaty with Zapatero

31st May 2007, Comments 0 comments

31 May 2007, MADRID - French President Nicolas Sarkozy is bringing his campaign to simplify the EU constitution to Spain, the first country to ratify the troubled document and outspoken in its opposition to gutting it.

31 May 2007

MADRID - French President Nicolas Sarkozy is bringing his campaign to simplify the EU constitution to Spain, the first country to ratify the troubled document and outspoken in its opposition to gutting it.

The conservative Sarkozy will confer with Socialist Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero on Thursday _ a little more than a month after Zapatero appeared at a campaign rally alongside Sarkozy's defeated election rival, Segolene Royal.

Aiming to pull the European Union out of its impasse over the constitution, Sarkozy has been pushing the idea of scaling the document down, after it was rejected in French and Dutch voters in 2005 referendums.

The constitution _ the EU's most ambitious project yet _ is designed to streamline EU decision-making and give the block more clout on the world stage.

Spaniards approved the constitution in a referendum months before the French and Dutch votes, and Spain co-sponsored a Jan. 26 meeting of the 18 countries that had approved the document. Participants said the text should not be watered down to win over skeptics.

Sarkozy has insisted, however, that the treaty in current form was unworkable because two countries had already rejected it _ spoiling chances for the unanimous backing of the 27-member union.

The solution, Sarkozy has said, is to scale down the constitution so that a more limited document could be agreed on.

"We hope that on this subject the Spanish government will be receptive to the idea of a simplified treaty," French presidential spokesman David Martinon said.

Spain now says that any revised version of the treaty must retain "the essence" of the original text, which is key if the bloc hopes to continue expanding with more members.

Skeptics such as France, Britain and the Netherlands want to drop contentious parts of the constitution _ such as its name, the post of EU foreign minister, and an anthem and flag _ to assuage citizens' fears that a constitution would strip powers from national capitals and create a European superstate.

During his one-day stay, Sarkozy also planned to meet with King Juan Carlos and conservative opposition leader Mariano Rajoy. This latter meeting is not meant to irk the Spanish Socialists, but rather reflects Sarkozy's "sense of personal and political friendship" with Rajoy's Popular Party, Martinon said.

In March 2006, Sarkozy appeared at a Popular Party convention and praised Rajoy, saying one day he would become Spain's prime minister.

[Copyright AP with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news

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