By: Chris Graeme
PRIME MINISTERS Romano Prodi and José Sócrates called for an urgent solution to the EU’s current constitution deadlock.
Both the Portuguese and Italian Prime Ministers said it was essential to draw up a new constitution for the European Union during Portugal’s rotational presidency which begins on July 1. The two leaders said it was the only way to strengthen the European Union politically and economically in the world.
“We are not defending fixed and determined models. We are defending a strong Europe, one with common and shared rules,” said Romano Prodi, who himself once headed the European Union Commission.
Romano Prodi was on a whistle-stop visit to Lisbon on Wednesday (May 2) to hold talks about Portugal’s forthcoming presidency of the European Union which is currently held by Germany.
He held talks not only with the Prime Minister but also with the President of the Republic, Cavaco Silva, and addressed parliamentary deputies in the Assembleia da República.
Prodi denied that the German presidency of the EU had effectively reduced the scale and ambitions of a new constitutional treaty between the member states or that Portugal would only succeed in creating a mini treaty during its presidency.
“My starting point is that the document that we call ‘a constitution’ has already been approved by 27 member states and has been ratified by 18 of them,” he said.
He warned that Europe could not remain paralysed for ever. “We’ve already been in a situation of deadlock for two years. Now we’ve got to await the outcome of the French presidential elections and then make a decision.”
However, Prodi did say that if agreement was not reached on a new treaty by June in Germany, Portugal would have difficulty in brokering a deal on the proposed constitution.
The constitution was knocked out in 2005 when France and Holland rejected it in referendums. So far Spain, Italy, Austria, Greece, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, Malta and Cyprus are for the constitution in its present form and have or are close to ratifying it.
Ironically, Portugal joins Poland, Czech Republic, Sweden, Denmark, Ireland and the UK in stalling the negotiations so far. Germany is now pushing for ratification.
The reasons why some states are against further EU institutional, political and economic integration – the aim of the constitution – varies from state to state. However, a common theme is that Europe will become ungovernable and over bureaucratic.
There are those, such as France, that fear farming subsidies and trade union powers will be eroded and that globalisation and full and flexible working legislation will undermine the social privileges currently enjoyed in countries like Sweden, France, Holland and Denmark.
Prodi also said that reports of an impending new Cold War between Russia and European Union and US were “media hype”. “Russia needs us for economic reasons as much as we need Russia’s gas,” he said.
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