Sarkozy and Prodi pledge to build EU institutions

29th May 2007, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, May 29, 2007 (AFP) - French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi agreed Monday on the need to strengthen European institutions following talks here to prepare for next month's EU summit.

PARIS, May 29, 2007 (AFP) - French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi agreed Monday on the need to strengthen European institutions following talks here to prepare for next month's EU summit.

"We are united in our shared commitment to strengthen European institutions," Prodi told a joint news conference.

Sarkozy, who took over from Jacques Chirac on May 16, is on a diplomatic drive to win approval at the European Union summit for his proposed simplified treaty which would replace the constitution rejected by Dutch and French voters two years ago.

Prodi said he was in agreement with Sarkozy on such issues as creating a stable presidency for the 27-nation bloc instead of countries taking turns at the helm of the EU for six months.

Sarkozy, who during the campaign leading up to his presidential win earlier this month called for the creation of a "Mediterranean union," also agreed with Prodi to convene a meeting of seven Mediterranean countries to discuss regional cooperation. Other than France and Italy, Spain, Greece, Cyprus, Malta and Portugal would attend.

The two leaders also said they would work together to strengthen economic governance in the countries sharing the common euro currency.

"Prodi considers that there is a need to strengthen economic governance in the eurozone. I wholeheartedly share this ambition. We have decided... to take these initiatives together," Sarkozy said.

The French president met with Prodi for 90 minutes and is due to hold talks in Madrid on Thursday with Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero.

Spain was the first EU country to approve the constitution in February 2005 and 17 other member states have since ratified it.

The June 21-22 EU summit in Brussels could be key for the relaunch of reforms with European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso saying last week that a deal on the new treaty could well be reached at the meeting.

Voters in France and the Netherlands rejected the draft constitution in 2005, putting the entire European project on ice.

The constitution was deemed necessary to bring the bloc's creaking institutions up to date after it expanded to 25 members in 2004. Bulgaria and Romania have since joined, bringing EU membership to 27.

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

Barroso said that a new treaty could be completed during the next presidency of the European Union which will be held by Portugal starting in July and that it could then be ratified by member states.


Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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