- Title: LUXEMBOURG: Pressure mounts ahead of summit on EU vote reform
- Date: 18th June 2007
- Summary: (BN09) LUXEMBOURG, LUXEMBOURG (JUNE 18, 2007)(REUTERS) GERMAN FOREIGN MINISTER FRANK WALTER STEINMEIER AND DANISH FOREIGN MINISTER PER STIG MOELLER ARRIVING JOURNALIST (SOUNDBITE)(German) FRANK WALTER STEINMEIER, GERMAN FOREIGN MINISTER, SAYING: "You have seen the end game for the future of the constitution has begun, is opened and I said last night and I repeat it today at the end of this week they will be either common losers or common winners."
- Embargoed: 3rd July 2007 13:00
- Location: Luxembourg
- Country: Luxembourg
- Topics: International Relations,European Union
- Reuters ID: LVA54HYLCVCX2LH3NK9A0SEEWDLB
- Story Text: EU foreign ministers discuss preparations for a crucial summit on a new European Union treaty as Poland demands changes to a reformed voting system agreed in 2004 which it says gives big states, especially Germany, too much power at its expense. The Czech Republic offered Poland an opportunity to climb down in talks on a new European Union treaty on Monday (June 18) but it was unclear whether Warsaw was interested in a face-saving compromise.
Poland is demanding changes to a reformed voting system agreed in 2004 which it says would give big states, especially Germany, too much power mainly at Warsaw's expense.
A Polish veto would block progress on a charter for reforming institutions for the enlarged EU.
Only the Czechs have lent Poland half-hearted support, while the other 25 EU members insist the voting reform must stay.
As EU foreign ministers discussed preparations for a crucial summit on Thursday (June 21) and Friday (June 22), Czech Deputy Prime Minister Alexandr Vondra said Prague wanted to help find a compromise between Poland and Germany, which holds the EU presidency.
Polish Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski said after meeting central European colleagues in Bratislava he hoped Poland would not have to use its veto, but he insisted it would defend demands for re-weighting the EU voting system.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has firmly resisted any attempt to go back on the so-called double majority system, under which most decisions would require 55 percent of member states representing 65 percent of the EU population to pass.
Germany ignored the Polish demand in a report circulated to EU foreign ministers before Sunday's (June 17) meeting, while working patiently to resolve problems for other countries such as Britain and the Netherlands.
Arriving for talks in Luxembourg on Monday, German Foreign Minister Frank Walter Steinmeier told reporters:
"You have seen the end game for the future of the constitution has begun, is opened and I said last night and I repeat it today at the end of this week they will be either common losers or common winners."
But Polish Foreign Minister Anna Fotyga says more time is needed.
"We know that Europe needs a new treaty and we are willing to cooperate and to work with our friends. But actually probably with so many differences of opinions we still need time and probably this time until the summit is enough," said Fotyga.
European Commissioner Margot Wallstrom said at a news conference that the pressure was mounting.
"You can also feel that things are heating up when it comes to the debate on the constitutional treaty and to find an institutional settlement," Wallstrom said.
Wallstrom also said she could not understand how Poland could reject what had already been agreed.
"Those listening to that debate, I think many of them would wonder -- are these really the same member states that once signed the constitutional treaty? And what exactly did happen since then? Of course we know that there were 'Nos' in France and the Netherlands but for some other member states they have actually all signed up to the deal. These issues are not new. They are very well known and they were sort of worked on during this whole process that has been going on for several years," she told reporters.
Agreement at the summit could lift the enlarged EU out of two years of torpor and give it a fresh start. But another failure could plunge it deeper into gloom and institutional gridlock, possibly prompting a vanguard of countries to try to press ahead with closer integration.
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