EU 'does not need constitution'

The British and Dutch prime ministers have said the European Union does not need a "whole new constitution", just limited changes to existing treaties.

EU 'does not need constitution'

Tony Blair and Jan Peter Balkenende said they would try to convince other EU leaders that they were right.

The Netherlands followed France in voting against a draft constitution in 2005, plunging the EU into crisis.

Mr Blair promised to hold a referendum in the UK, but officials say no vote is needed for a simple "amending" treaty.

German hopes

"The characteristics of a constitution is what has to come out, so that what you are left with is a genuine, traditional rule-making treaty that allows Europe to work more effectively," said Mr Blair, after talks in London.

"It's not just setting aside the name of the constitutional treaty, it's setting aside the approach."

Mr Blair said EU treaties had been regularly revised, but the constitution had attempted to consolidate all the rules of the EU, and given rise to a new set of legal principles.

The German government, which holds the EU's rotating presidency, is planning to put forward in June a roadmap for the adoption of a new constitutional treaty.

It has said it wants to preserve as much of the old constitution as possible, and has support from 17 other states which have all ratified, or nearly ratified, the text.

More problems

Mr Blair and Mr Balkenende agreed that national parliaments should play a bigger part in EU decision-making.

They said the disagreement over the constitution needed to be resolved, so that the EU could concentrate on more important problems, such as the economy, climate change, immigration and organised crime.

Mr Balkenende said the EU needed rule changes to increase democracy and efficiency.

He said it was too early to say whether the Netherlands would hold a referendum on a future treaty.

BBC

Last Mod: 17 Nisan 2007, 16:09
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