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Berlin politicians doubt bigger EU

Published on 16/12/2003

17 December 2003

BERLIN – The European Union’s failure to agree a new constitution could delay planned admission of Romania and Bulgaria to the bloc, German politicians said Tuesday.

“The European Union is in a crisis. Every new enlargement step will be very difficult,” warned Matthias Wissmann, a member of the opposition Christian Democrats and chairman of the German parliament’s European Affairs Committee.

Wissmann told the Berliner Zeitung newspaper that if the bloc was unable to agree a constitution for its current 15 members plus the 10 states due to formally join next year, then enlarging the Union still further could not be considered.

The EU has up until now said it plans to admit Bulgaria and Romania to the bloc in 2007.

Turkey’s chances of joining the EU could also be endangered.

EU leaders are due to decide on whether to start membership negotiations with Ankara at the end of 2004.

But a senior German official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said last week before the summit failed that Turkey would not be a member of the EU even by 2014.

Leaders of the 25 present and future EU member states failed to agree the tough issue of power-sharing leading to collapse of talks aimed at a constitutional treaty at a Brussels summit last weekend.

A leading member of the European Parliament from German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder’s Social Democrats (SPD) also expressed doubts.

“The failure of the EU summit will bring about a thinking over of future enlargement steps,” said Martin Schulz who tops the SPD election list for next year’s European Parliament election.

Schulz said current EU voting regulations, which will now remain in place given collapse of summit negotiations, were insufficient for leading a Union of even 25 members not to mention 27.

It is unclear when the EU will again attempt to create a constitution but many observers say it could be years.

Subject: German news