Italiaans voorzitterschap komt in november met compromis-Grondwet (en)

Met dank overgenomen van EUobserver (EUOBSERVER) i, gepubliceerd op donderdag 16 oktober 2003, 8:19.
Auteur: Sharon Spiteri

The Italian Presidency will present a compromise proposal on the EU Constitution at a planned informal summit of EU heads of state and government in November.

On his arrival at the European Peoples' Party (EPP) summit in Meise, Belgium yesterday, Italy's Premier Silvio Berlusconi said that after the European Council meeting (16 and 17 October), "the Italian Presidency will be holding bilateral meetings with individual premiers of various countries, and will put together a complete package of proposals which will probably be discussed at a meeting in mid-November, perhaps an informal one", he said according to Rai News 24.

The aim would be to present a final proposal at the EU summit and Intergovernmental Conference in December.

Silvio Berlusconi also held meetings yesterday with Commission President Romano Prodi and European Parliament President Pat Cox.

"There are certain issues where an agreement can possibly be reached", he said, although he indicated that much work still needs to be done.

He reiterated also that Italy wants a high-profile agreement at the intergovernmental conference (IGC), and is ready to say no to a low-level agreement, Ansa reported.

Mr Berlusconi said that at today's summit, he will be inviting each country's representative to indicate which two or three issues on the EU Constitution they consider most important.

But he warned, "we are all responsible here. If it is possible to reach unanimity it will be everyone's success, otherwise it will be the responsibility of somebody who did not allow any step forward."

However, Italy's Premier is expected to have a tough time ahead of him.

At a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Luxembourg last Monday, bargaining positions on controversial institutional questions in the draft Constitution were hardened still further.

The make-up of the Commission in the future EU is causing the most headaches. The six founding EU members - France, Germany, Italy and the Benelux - said they supported the set-up proposed in the new Constitution: that of 15 core commissioners with voting rights.

But the vast majority of countries are pushing for one commissioner per member state - all with full voting rights.

Another battle ahead is the Spanish and Polish fight against the proposed change in voting weights in the new Constitution which would see their influence considerably reduced.

However, according to the Financial Times, Spain and Poland could each be given two European commissioners and more European Parliament seats under a possible deal to save talks on a new EU constitution.

The newspaper reports that a fallback plan is being drawn for an expanded Commission of 31 members, to secure a last-minute agreement on the new treaty.

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