Spanish PM to hold talks on EU reforms

25th May 2007, Comments 0 comments

MADRID, May 25, 2007 (AFP) - Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero will meet his Dutch counterpart and France's new president next week for separate talks on EU constitutional reforms, officials said Friday.

MADRID, May 25, 2007 (AFP) - Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero will meet his Dutch counterpart and France's new president next week for separate talks on EU constitutional reforms, officials said Friday.

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

But voters in France and the Netherlands rejected the draft, aimed at streamlining EU institutions, within days in May and June 2005, leaving the entire ratification process 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 also joined bring EU membership to 27.

Zapatero will see the Netherlands' Jan Peter Balkenende on Wednesday and President Nicolas Sarkozy the next day.

He will also travel to Berlin on June 16 for talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel whose country holds the EU presidency until the end of next month.

The talks are part of preparations for the June 21-22 EU summit in Brussels which could be key for the relaunch of EU reforms, Spanish officials said.

Sarkozy, who was elected president on May 6, favours a simplified constitutional treaty.

European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso said Thursday that a deal on the new treaty proposed by Sarkozy could well be reached at next month's summit.

Barroso met with Sarkozy in Brussels on Wednesday to discuss his proposal.

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

He 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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