Grote druk op Spanje en Polen inzake stemweging (en)

EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - Spain and Poland are coming under increasing pressure to capitulate on the sensitive issue of vote weighting after a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels yesterday (8 December).

Italy, France and Germany all kept with their pledge to stick with the proposals contained in the draft Constitution.

This double majority system, strongly opposed since the outset of intergovernmental talks by both Spain and Poland, suggests that for a decision to be taken at least half of member states representing 60% of the population must agree.

Madrid and Warsaw oppose the system, which determines the balance of power in the EU, and want to keep the current Nice Treaty which allows them to punch above their population weight.

However, they have seen little sympathy.

Common front in Paris

Germany's Gerhard Schröder and French President Jacques Chirac will meet in Paris today to present a common front on the issue.

Yesterday, both countries also sang from the same hymn book. French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin said that the Constitution should not be made ready "at any price" while his counterpart Joschka Fischer said that "a bad Constitution is no option".

The Italian Presidency will present another set of proposals on the Constitution today however Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said that the revised draft will not include any proposals on voting.

Referring to Spain and Poland and the voting issue, he said that he had not yet seen an alternative proposal that would enjoy success.

At the moment, there is some speculation that a meeting in Berlin on Thursday (11 December) between Chancellor Schröder and Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski may provide the breakthrough needed.

Polish Foreign Minister Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz said that Poland would do "absolutely everything" to see that negotiations are finished in December.

Both the Italian Presidency's latest proposals as well as the outcome of the German-Polish meeting will form the basis of the final talks on the Constitution on 12-13 December.

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