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French press slams Spain, Poland for EU ‘fiasco’

PARIS, Dec 14 (AFP) – Blame for the failure of a weekend EU summit to adopt a first-ever European constitution fell squarely on Spain and Poland, French media said Sunday, adding that the stage was now set for a two-tier bloc to emerge.

Newspapers called it “a crisis without precedent” and a “fiasco” and left no doubt as to the acrimony they said had been created by Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar and his Polish counterpart Leszek Miller.

“For the first time in its history, Europe has broken down, the wind has gone from all its sails,” Le Journal du Dimanche said. “Spain and Poland can be put on the stand for having blown up any chance of compromise.”

The two countries had put domestic politics ahead of the bid to forge a workable European identity, the paper stated.

It accused them, especially Spain, of seeking to maintain generous voting rights agreed under a treaty from three years ago that would be unworkable once the 15-nation European Union expands to 25 next May.

Poland, one of the incoming members, also tried to hit Germany with World War II guilt to win favourable terms for its businesses, the paper said.

The newspaper Le Parisien was more moderate, but said the “fiasco” had riven Europe, with Poland and Spain’s resistance being reinforced by the determination of other countries – “led by Austria and Portugal” – to ensure each state had a commissioner in the new European Commission.

Le Journal du Dimanche declared that “more than Poland, it was Jose Maria Aznar’s instransigence which made impossible the adoption of the constitution.

“The two countries remained inflexible. Spain even more so than Poland, was what was heard in the corridors of the summit.”

Le Parisien said that “the rumour had it that it was the Poles who were the hardest. But others said that (French President Jacques) Chirac seemed to have refused to look at any compromise.”

With the plan to create a 25-nation European Union that would move together now “broken down,” both papers said a two-speed bloc would likely emerge.

“France and Germany could move ahead and show the example,” Le Parisien said.

Le Journal du Dimanche said such a system was already being born, noting that Britain, France and Germany have been strengthening ties, notably with a view to creating a European defence unit drawn from their militaries.

 © AFP

                                                                Subject: France news