Zapatero debuts at Euro talks
17 June 2004, BRUSSELS - Spain's prime minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero was Thursday attending his first Council of Europe meeting with heads of 24 other countries.
17 June 2004
BRUSSELS - Spain's prime minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero was Thursday attending his first Council of Europe meeting with heads of 24 other countries.
Zapatero has pledged to try to reach the best deal for Spain on the controversial subjects of the new European Constitution and who should be the new president of the European Commission.
Other issues which were expected to play a major role in the two-day conference in Brussels were the fight against terrorism, the ten new members of the EU and the situation in Iraq and the Middle East.
But the low voter turnout in last Sunday's elections across Europe for the EU parliament was also expected to figure in the talks.
Romano Prodi, the current president of the EC, is expected to be replaced by either the Belgian prime minister Guy Verhofstadt or the prime minister of Luxembourg Jean-Claude Juncker.
The talks come six months after a deal was scuppered by differences over voting rights and other key issues.
Some leaders have arrived in Brussels predicting success but commentators say difficulties remain.
There appears to be little consensus in particular over choosing a successor to Prodi.
It is also crunch time for the European constitution as politicians want to avoid another failure at all costs after the disappointing turnout in the European parliamentary elections.
At the December summit in Brussels, Poland and Spain blocked the agreement because they would have lost more favourable deals secured in previous agreements.
The political situation in both countries has changed recently - with Spain getting a new Socialist government in March and the Polish prime minister facing a second vote of confidence later this month.
The EU proposes to change the so-called "double-majority" principle which determines how EU decisions are made.
Instead of requiring the support of 50 percent of member states making 60 percent of the EU population, the new draft sets the figures at 55 percent-65 percent.
They also want to trim down European Commission from the expected 25 members (one for each country) to 18 members, but only from 2014.
They also want to guarantee each country has at least six seats in the European parliament to placate smaller countries.
[Copyright EFE with Expatica]
Subject: Spanish news