Raffarin sees EU refrerendum deal 2004

15th January 2004, Comments 0 comments

BRUSSELS, Jan 14 (AFP) - French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin late Wednesday voiced optimism on the chances of the soon-to-be enlarged European Union agreeing on a controversial constitution before the end of this year.

BRUSSELS, Jan 14 (AFP) - French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin late Wednesday voiced optimism on the chances of the soon-to-be enlarged European Union agreeing on a controversial constitution before the end of this year.

"We are quite optimistic based on the contacts that we currently are having on seeing some movements here or there which are signs of progress," Raffarin told reporters.

"If this year Europe does not equip itself with stronger institutions that are more democratic... we will miss a big deadline," he added after talks with European Commission President Romano Prodi.

"That's why I think that everyone will make the necessary moves so that an agreement can be" found, he added.

Plans to adopt a new constitution in time for the EU's expansion in May collapsed at a December summit in Brussels because of disagreements among the 25 current and future EU members on changes to the EU's internal voting system.

Meanwhile, Raffarin has restated France's support for the controversial double majority system of voting by EU members in an article to be published in 10 European newspapers on Thursday.

"As head of the government I am very attached to the double majority rule," he wrote.

Poland and Spain were strongly opposed to changes to the EU's internal voting system in the draft proposal which were heavily promoted by France and Germany.

While clearly more efficient, the double majority would hand greater power to the EU's big four - Britain, France, Germany and Italy - because of their large populations, and lessen the influence of medium-sized states like Poland and Spain.

© AFP

                                Subject: France news

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