Tony Blair verhardt standpunten EU-grondwet op gebied van begroting en belastingen (en)
Auteur: Andrew Beatty
After calling a referendum, UK Prime Minister Tony Blair will this week toughen his government's stance on the Constitutional treaty, set to be finalised next month.
According to reports in the UK press, Mr Blair will use the launch of the Labour Party's campaign for the European elections to firm up his negotiating position.
The threat of a UK `no' vote in a constitution referendum - and the ensuing crisis it would provoke - has strengthened Mr Blair's hand, with just over a month of talks on the Constitution left to go.
According to the Guardian newspaper, UK finance minister Gordon Brown will use tomorrow's meeting with his EU counterparts to ask for at least 25 amendments to the draft treaty in the areas of taxation and the budget.
Tax had been one of the UK government's so-called 'red lines' - no-go areas for the EU's powers to expand into. Other red lines include the abolition of the veto over defence, foreign policy and social security.
Last year, during the French election campaign, President Jacques Chirac pledged to hold a referendum on the document.
This promise has now come home to roost with Mr Chirac being called upon to hold the vote.
Both the French and UK public are largely unaware of the detail of the text and many in both countries are sceptical.
Mr Blair now appears to be ready to use this scepticism to retain influence over the talks.
Foreign Ministers are scheduled to meet later this month to discuss the draft text.
The Irish government, who are chairing the talks, hope to agree on a final text at a summit in June.