EU Leaders Reach Agreement in Constitution Debates

Leaders of the European Union reached an agreement early Saturday on the draft of a new EU Constitution after breaking a deadlock in talks with Poland.

The previous treaty establishing the Constitution was signed in Rome in 2004 and was in the process of ratification, but France and the Netherlands refused to ratify it following referendums. This provoked some countries to postpone ratification of the document, which would have come into effect in November 2006. So far 18 member states have ratified the treaty either at parliamentary level or by referendum.

Poland was one of the key opponents to the draft of the constitutional treaty. The country objected to a new method proposed for decision making known as the "double majority", which Warsaw said weakened the positions of average-sized countries in favor of the U.K., France, and Germany.

The draft treaty allows legislation to be passed if 55% of EU nations representing 65% of the EU population support a measure. Any legislative initiative could be blocked by at least four EU members.

Poland, the sixth largest EU member, has proposed using the square root of a member state's population to calculate the number of votes it will wield. This would give Poland six votes and Germany, the population leader, nine.

Source: AFP

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