Spain warns EU treaty deal 'almost impossible'
21 June 2007, BRUSSELS - Spain said Thursday the chances of reaching a deal over the Euro constitution were 'nearly impossible' as the row with Poland and Britain intensified.
21 June 2007
BRUSSELS - Spain said Thursday the chances of reaching a deal over the Euro constitution were 'nearly impossible' as the row with Poland and Britain intensified.
Poland and Britain warned they may use their veto rights to scupper plans to draft a watered-down EU treaty at a European Union summit starting Thursday, with Warsaw demanding more voting rights and London insisting Brussels' powers must be limited.
British Prime Minister Tony Blair said he would reject any new treaty that is similar to a proposed constitution rejected by French and Dutch voters two years ago.
Blair, who was preparing to attend his last summit before stepping down next week, was in talks with his successor Treasury chief Gordon Brown over Britain's demands for the treaty.
Polish Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski said the current plan drafted by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the summit host, remained a problem.
"The situation still does not satisfy us," Kaczynski told Polish Rzeczpospolita daily in Warsaw. "We should do everything to push through our proposal or to obtain some other solution that would equally satisfy our ambitions. Either we obtain that, or there will be a veto."
The Spanish EU minister, Alberto Navarro, told the Cadena Ser radio station he was not positive a deal could be reached.
Under the EU's weighted voting proposal, the population of a country is key and Kaczynski has said Poland was looking for compensation for the deaths it suffered during World War II, when Nazi Germany invaded. He argues his country would be a much larger country now if not for the war.
Merkel arrived at EU headquarters hours ahead of the summit for preparatory talks with European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana.
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said on arrival at pre-summit talks with socialist leaders that compromise was essential to resolve deep divisions over the future of the expanding bloc.
"We should not think about alternatives," Steinmeier told reporters, adding he and Merkel were "trying to build bridges to member states who are skeptical."
Diplomats are expecting tough negotiations between leaders with Poland and Britain standing firm in their opposition to parts of a proposed treaty to replace the stillborn EU constitution.
Merkel said Europe needs guidelines laying out how to govern the 27-nation bloc so that it can deal with the challenges of such pressing issues as climate change, energy supplies and globalization.
"The European public now expects us to put the necessary reforms of the union in hand," Merkel said in a letter to leaders. "The time has now come to set out the roadmap for the impending reform of the treaties."
However, the task will be far from easy, as indicated by a pre-summit wave of arguments between leaders and threats of vetoes on decisions that need unanimous backing.
Merkel presented her counterparts with an 11-page shopping list of issues she wants included in negotiations on a new treaty _ a list EU leaders will have to agree to over the next two days before full-blown technical negotiations on replacing the dead constitution can begin.
Germany and many other states want to salvage as much as they can from the derailed constitution, which has been approved by 18 member nations. They argue that the sensitive compromises within it are the only way forward.
But opponents argue that Germany's list is a ploy to push ahead with the charter in defiance of the Netherlands and France, where voters firmly rejected the constitution in referendums in 2005.
Merkel's so-called 11-page draft mandate recommends that the touchiest issues within the draft constitution are removed as part of its overhaul. That includes stripping the text of any reference to symbols _ including the EU's blue-and-gold, star-spangled flag; its Beethoven anthem, and the motto "United in Diversity," which many felt hinted at the creation of a European superstate.
She also proposed dropping the title "constitution" and calling it a the "Treaty on the Functioning of the Union" instead. Berlin wants EU nations to finalize the treaty in the months ahead.
The proposal recommends giving national parliaments more say in drafting EU laws, a key Dutch demand _ but recommends that the EU retain essential elements of the aborted constitution, notably on decision-making and areas where the EU wants more powers.
Poland has demanded a redrafting of new voting rules to give Warsaw more power and Polish media reported Wednesday that Warsaw had renewed its demand that the new treaty include a reference to Europe's Christian heritage _ something Merkel is keen not to include.
Britain, meanwhile, opposes greater EU powers over policing and foreign policy and does not support making a new EU human rights charter legally binding, a move that London fears could hurt its control over domestic laws, like labor rights.
All 27 nations, however, agree that the EU move quickly to adopt a new rulebook to streamline the complex decision-making system crafted years ago when it was a union of 15.
[Copyright AP with Expatica]
Subject: Spanish news