Rome backs plan for quick constitution
By Lisbeth Kirk
The Italian and German governments have agreed to seek a quick adoption of the European Constitution, with as few changes as possible.
The agreement to limit the number of amendments made by governments when they pour over the document later this year is being seen as an attempt by Rome to place relations between the two countries on a better footing.
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Meeting with his Italian counterpart on Saturday in Verona the German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder spoke in favour of having the draft Constitution adopted without changes.
Pleased with the draft presented by the Convention on the Future of Europe Berlin is keen to see that the agreement is not watered down.
Whoever opens the packet, will not manage to seal it again, the German Chancellor warned.
It looks like he has now secured Italian support, which will be essential.
Under the leadership of the Italian EU presidency an Intergovernmental Conference, (IGC) will begin in Rome on 4 October to fine tune the draft EU constitution
The Chair of the IGC, Mr Berlusconi on Saturday spoke of one, two or maximum three changes to the draft text.
Mr Schröder’s visit is his first to Italy since a war of words was begun by Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi when he insulted a German MEP in the European Parliament in July.
On Friday evening a reconciliation was prepared, as Mr Schröder, Mr Berlusconi and the European Commission president Romano Prodi were to enjoy Carmen in the Verona opera.
However Mr Berlusconi at the last minute said he would not attend fearing his presence would give rise to noisy demonstrations which had been planned by his opponents.
However, on Saturday the two political leaders did meet.
"There was never a worsening of German-Italian relations, this is why you can not speak about improvements", Mr Berlusconi said according to Handelsblatt.
The European Parliament Committee on Constitutional Affairs and the Committee on Industry, External Trade, Research and Energy will both meet on Monday (25 August) and discuss the Draft Treaty on the European Constitution.