Barroso optimistic about deal on new treaty

24th May 2007, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, May 24, 2007 (AFP) - European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso said Thursday that a deal on a new EU treaty proposed by French President Nicolas Sarkozy could well be reached at next month's summit.

PARIS, May 24, 2007 (AFP) - European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso said Thursday that a deal on a new EU treaty proposed by French President Nicolas Sarkozy could well be reached at next month's summit.

Barroso met with Sarkozy in Brussels on Wednesday to discuss his proposal for a simplified treaty to replace the constitution that was rejected by French and Dutch voters in referendums two years ago.

"I believe that it is possible to reach a compromise at the European Council in June," Barroso told Europe 1 radio.

"I believe that we can get a clear mandate for an inter-governmental conference which, in my view, could immediately follow, possibly in July," he added.

Leaders of the 27-nation European Union will decide at a summit meeting in Brussels on June 21 and 22 whether to move ahead with Sarkozy's proposal that would break the impasse over the bloc's institutional reform.

Sarkozy has suggested that a simplified treaty be negotiated, taking the bare essentials of the constitution such as creating a stable presidency to replace the six-month current rotating system where countries take turns at the helm.

Barroso said that the 18 countries that have ratified the constitution should be open to France's proposal which he emphasized was "at the center of the debate on solving the institutional issue."

"I hope that those who have not ratified will take important steps towards those who have and that they, in turn, if they want a treaty, will also be able to accept some proposals such as those put forward by France," said Barroso.

The EC president added that a new treaty could be completed during the next presidency of the European Union which Portugal will take over in July and that it could then be ratified by member states.

Sarkozy has proposed that the treaty be approved by parliament to avoid facing an unpredictable referendum.

After French voters voted against the original constitution in May 2005, France found itself outside the club of architects of the new Europe, which has taken in 12 new members since 2004.

Eighteen EU member states have ratified the original constitution, which was deemed necessary to bring the creaking institutions up to date in the expanded bloc.

Sarkozy is scheduled to press on with his European diplomatic drive,  travelling to Madrid next week for talks with Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero of Spain.

Spain was the first EU country to adopt the constitution by referendum in 2005.


Copyright AFP

SUbject: French news

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