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No progress at EU summit

Published on 22/06/2007

22 June 2007

BRUSSELS (AP) – Germany and France headed into midnight talks with holdout Poland to rescue their plans for a new treaty to give the 27 European Union nations a stronger, united voice and reinvigorate the bloc two years after the rejection of the draft EU constitution.

Many EU leaders sounded pessimistic, though, after Thursday’s opening dinner, hearing that Polish President Lech Kaczynski stuck to his demand to give Poland a more prominent role in the EU and Britain insisted on keeping the EU out of such issues as judicial decisions and policing.

“We have no outcome, no result to announce,” said summit host Angela Merkel, the German chancellor.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy was more upbeat, convinced that a compromise could be found with outgoing British Prime Minister Tony Blair, leaving the Polish voting issue as the main problem.

“Yes, things move. Is it enough? No, not yet,” he said.

At a dinner discussion over a German menu of beef and artichokes, all sides laid out their positions.

Merkel, determined to close out Germany’s EU presidency with a deal on a treaty she says is crucial for governing the expanded EU, said she would hold one-on-one talks Friday morning before leaders reconvene for discussions in the afternoon.

“Every effort should be made to try to come to an agreement,” Merkel said. “If that is possible, we cannot say now.”

After dinner, Sarkozy and Merkel headed into separate closed-door talks with Kaczynski to sway him with complicated arithmetic on how the EU’s system of majority voting could be adapted to Warsaw’s advantage.

“It is a good sign we will meet him,” Sarkozy said.

Most of the negotiations, however, are set for Friday.

“We made a first round of tough negotiations; it was dinner, but I think we can perhaps best describe it as an entree, the main course will be tomorrow,” said European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso.

[Copyright AP 2007]

Subject: Belgian news, EU news