France against 'any cost' EU constitution

11th December 2003, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Dec 10 (AFP) - France said Wednesday it wants an "ambitious and fair" text drawn up at this week's EU summit in Brussels but not an agreement at any cost on the bloc's first constitution.

PARIS, Dec 10 (AFP) - France said Wednesday it wants an "ambitious and fair" text drawn up at this week's EU summit in Brussels but not an agreement at any cost on the bloc's first constitution.

"France wants an agreement to be reached in Brussels and goes there in this spirit, while making it clear that an agreement should not be drawn up at any cost," presidential spokeswoman Catherine Colonna said.

Paris' aim is for a "good, ambitious and fair text conforming to the interests of Europe and Europeans," Colonna said, reiterating France's support for Italy in its capacity as rotating EU president to resolve outstanding issues.

"Fifteen or 25, Europeans need a Europe that functions," she said in reference to the increase in EU member states in 2004.

Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin echoed Colonna's comments saying that France would not stand for a "watered down" document at the summit.

"We will not agree to yet another delay on essential and long-awaited decisions," Villepin said during a debate in the Senate on the issue. "We will not agree to a watered-down constitution."

EU leaders will try to hammer out agreement on a European constitution when they gather in Belgium on Friday and Saturday for their quarterly European Council meeting.

The EU's Italian presidency wants the constitution concluded at the EU leaders summit but current and future members of the bloc have so far failed to reach agreement over a number of key points.

One of the toughest issues at stake is reforming how the EU votes. The draft constitution proposes a reform where votes would take more account of population size, but Spain and Poland, which would lose out under this scheme, have opposed the change.

Governments are also haggling over the size of the European Commission, the EU's executive body.

Many governments of small countries, which see the Commission as the guardian of their interests, want one commissioner per member state.

But the draft constitution calls for the creation of a smaller body which would be more effective after enlargement, a position backed by EU giants France and Germany who argue a Commission of 25 or more fully voting members would be unmanageable.


 © AFP

                                                                Subject: France news

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