MADRID, Spain: The prime ministers of Spain and Italy agreed on 20 February to work with Germany to revive the European Union constitution, a project aimed at streamlining decision making in the enlarged EU but which was rejected by France and the Netherlands.
“We have agreed to put all our efforts into relaunching the process of European integration,” Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero of Spain told a joint news conference with Italian counterpart Romano Prodi on the Mediterranean island of Ibiza.
“We are going to unite the efforts of two countries that have ratified the EU constitutional treaty with Germany so that this semester will be a time in which we move from thought to action, from stagnancy to initiatives,” Zapatero said.
Eighteen EU countries — representing 270 million of the EU’s 490 million people — ratified the EU constitution by referendum or parliamentary vote but the project was thrown off the rails when France and the Netherlands rejected it in 2005.All 27 EU nations must approve the charter for it to take effect.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, whose country holds the rotating EU presidency, has pledged to resolve the constitutional crisis.Zapatero said the EU council meeting in two weeks time could serve as a “good opportunity to renew our confidence in the European project.”
He said that the union needed to find a solution that would “permit the incorporation of those countries which have had problems with ratification but also maintain the essence” of the project.The draft constitution provides for a bill of rights, an EU president and foreign minister to replace the current system of rotating leadership and more efficient decision making to give the bloc a more assertive global role.
During their one-day meeting, Prodi and Zapatero also discussed the Middle East and the situation of their troops in Lebanon and Afghanistan.The meeting was the 14th annual summit to be held between the countries’ leaders.