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Conflict growing over new EU rules

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    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 5, 2003
      This message was sent from: EU / UN / Globalist Agendas.
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      [img]http://europa.eu.int/comm/world/images/world2.gif%5b/img]
      Conflict growing over new EU rules
      By Peter Conradi and Hilary Clarke, The Sunday Times, and AFP 06oct03

      There were three kisses and a smile for an embarrassed British Prime
      Minister Tony Blair, a brisk handshake for Germany's Gerhard Schroder � and
      a barely disguised scowl for Romano Prodi, president of the European
      Commission.
      The variety of greetings dispensed on Saturday by ebullient Italian Prime
      Minister Silvio Berlusconi mirrored the complex political fault lines
      running through the EU as leaders of its 25 current and future members met
      in Rome to mark the start of months of wrangling over a new European
      constitution.

      Mr Berlusconi acknowledged that the negotiations over the first constitution
      � which the EU wants to enshrine in a new Treaty of Rome to echo the group's
      1957 founding text � may continue beyond the December deadline.

      "I admit a very difficult task awaits us," he said.

      "We only have a little over 60 days to do a lot of work. But on other
      occasions Europe has completed such work."

      France, Germany and Italy have mounted a concerted campaign in recent days
      to warn an increasingly vociferous band of smaller countries against trying
      to unpick the draft text agreed in June at the European Convention.

      "Challenging one aspect or another of the compromise would inevitably open
      pandora's box," said French President Jacques Chirac.

      Key reforms in the new constitution would include a new EU president to
      replace the musical chairs of the current unwieldy six-month rotating
      presidency system, a slimmed-down EU executive commission, a new EU foreign
      minister and reassessed voting rights.

      Voting rights are already shaping up as a central stumbling block.
      Medium-sized countries Spain and Poland are vowing to stand firm against
      proposals to remove the beneficial voting rights they secured under the Nice
      Treaty, which gave them 27 votes each compared with 29 for Germany � which
      is nearly twice the size of either.

      The "smalls" are worried that the powers of the commission � which they see
      as a bulwark against the larger countries � will be curbed by the creation
      of the new post of European Council president.

      But few doubt the inter-governmental conference, as it is known, will reach
      an 11th-hour compromise that allows everyone to claim victory, with the new
      treaty to be signed before the European parliamentary elections to be held
      next June.

      That may prove the easy part, however. Up to a dozen countries � but not
      Britain � are planning referendums on the text that are almost certain to
      turn into a broader vote of confidence in the EU.

      Fears of a no vote have been strengthened by last month's Swedish referendum
      in which voters rejected the introduction of the single currency, despite a
      mass outpouring of grief for assassinated pro-euro foreign minister Anna
      Lindh.

      Although expulsion remains the ultimate threat, it appears more likely the
      electorate of any country that has the temerity to vote no will be presented
      with the text again and again until it makes the "right" decision � as
      happened when Denmark rejected the Maastricht treaty in 1992, only to accept
      a modified version the following year.


      http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/printpage/0,5942,7470263,00.html


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