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Germany Wants Mandate to Revive EU Constitution

Bloomberg | June 15 2006

Germany will seek a mandate to revive a constitution for the European Union during its presidency in the first half of next year, a federal government official said today.

EU heads of state and government will probably give Chancellor Angela Merkel the go-ahead in a statement to be approved by the group after a two-day summit that starts tomorrow, said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Leaders of countries where the charter has been rejected in referendums, such as France and the Netherlands, may argue over the wording of the statement with leaders who've already pushed the plan through national parliaments, such as Germany, the official said.

The deadlock over the constitution casts doubt on the 25- nation EU's ability to let in countries of former Yugoslavia that are seeking political stability and economic prosperity through membership. The impasse also clouds the entry prospects for Turkey, which has started membership talks that may last a decade or more.

Germany's six-month presidency may be too short to break the impasse, the German official said. There is only a small window of opportunity and Germany may fail to do more than present a roadmap for the way ahead, he said.

Chancellor Merkel

``We need the constitution, we need further reforms,'' Chancellor Merkel said today after a meeting with Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi in Berlin. Germany will host an informal meeting of EU leaders in Berlin in March 2007 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome, which established the European Economic Community, the forerunner of the EU, she said.

EU foreign ministers on May 28 decided to prolong until mid-2007 a ``period of reflection'' begun last year after French and Dutch voters rejected the constitution. The new charter is meant to streamline EU decision-making so that more nations can join after Bulgaria and Romania become members in 2007 or 2008.

The vetoes of the proposed constitution followed the May 2004 entry of 10 countries, eight of them in formerly communist eastern Europe. Some politicians in member states such as France and Germany say further EU expansion risks creating institutional deadlock and a voter backlash.

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