French deputies adopt constitutional change for EU treaty

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French deputies adopted a revision of the country's constitution to allow a new EU reform treaty to be ratified by parliament

   PARIS, January 17, 2008  - French deputies adopted Wednesday a revision of
the country's constitution to allow a new EU reform treaty to be ratified by
parliament, despite criticism that it should be voted on in a referendum.
   The measure was adopted by a vote of 304 to 77, with 100 lawmakers choosing
to abstain.
   The Senate must next vote on the text January 29, before its final adoption
by both houses on February 4.
   The opposition Socialist Party previously announced it would abstain from
the vote on the constitutional amendment, arguing the EU treaty should be
ratified by referendum.
   "Our vote doesn't reflect the content of the treaty," Socialist lawmaker
Jean-Jacques Urvoas said, noting the majority of the party backed the text in
an internal vote -- although a number of party members oppose it.
   Signed in Lisbon last month, the EU charter aims to streamline
decision-making of the 27-member bloc, replacing a more ambitious EU
constitution that was rejected by French and Dutch voters in referenda in 2005.
   France's Communist Party has denounced as a "coup d'etat" the government's
decision to ratify it by parliamentary vote, judging the new EU document no
different than the past one.
   But the ruling Union for a Popular Movement party overwhelmingly backs the
treaty, which was seen as a victory for President Nicolas Sarkozy, who pushed
for it after his election in May.
   Once they adopt the constitutional change, the National Assembly and the
Senate are expected to ratify the Lisbon treaty in early February.
AFP

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