Spain, Holland pushing to preserve EU treaty

31st May 2007, Comments 0 comments

31 May 2007, MADRID - Leaders of Spain and the Netherlands pledged to work toward amending the EU constitution and pulling the EU out of its impasse over the ambitious but troubled document.

31 May 2007

MADRID - Leaders of Spain and the Netherlands pledged to work toward amending the EU constitution and pulling the EU out of its impasse over the ambitious but troubled document.

Spain was the first EU country to ratify the treaty, doing so by an overwhelming majority in a referendum in February 2005. Months later voters in the Netherlands rejected it by an equally strong margin, joining France in saying 'no' to the treaty.

Dutch Prime Jan Peter Balkenende, speaking at a news conference after meeting Spanish counterpart Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, was asked how the positions of Spain and the Netherlands could be reconciled if their citizens were so opposed on the constitution issue.

"What we have to do is look for the things we have in common, and not the things on which we think differently," Balkenende said. "I think it is possible to reach a positive agreement, a common agreement among everyone. It is not going to be easy."

Zapatero, whose talks with the Dutch leader were the first in a series of discussions with EU leaders on the constitution, said European officials wanted to strike a deal in coming weeks.

"There are different positions as to the content and scope of the treaty, but there is a will to reach an agreement so that our work in the coming weeks will be fruitful," Zapatero said.

The Spanish leader is to receive French President Nicolas Sarkozy on Thursday for more talks on the treaty, and is due to meet German Chancellor Angela Merkel next month.

The treaty issue will be discussed at a June 21-22 EU summit in Germany, which holds the EU presidency.

The document is aimed at streamlining EU decision-making, enhancing the bloc's international role and preparing it to accept more member states. Eighteen countries, including Spain, have ratified it.

The EU is seeking ways to revise the treaty in the hope that it can still be adopted.

Spain wants to preserve much of the substance of the original draft.

[Copyright AP with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news

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