Thursday

9th Apr 2020

Italy to present Constitution compromise end of November

  • FRANCO FRATTINI - remains confident that a deal will be reached (Photo: European Commission)

The Italian EU Presidency has said that it will present its eagerly awaited compromise package on the Constitution at the end of this month.

Franco Frattini, the Italian Foreign Minister, said on Tuesday (11 November) that Rome would present the deal at a special meeting of EU foreign ministers in Naples on 28 November, reports Ansa.

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At this meeting the gloves are really expected to come off.

The 25 foreign ministers from the current and future EU member states will try and hammer out an agreement on the remaining sticking points - generally institutional - before a meeting of EU leaders on 12-13 December in Brussels.

Although negotiations on the hardcore issues such as vote weighting in the Council of Ministers and the composition of the Commission came unstuck earlier this month, Mr Frattini remains optimistic that a deal will be reached.

"All the conditions exist for a positive outcome", he said.

Tour de capitales

For the last few weeks, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has been working on just that. He has been conducting a tour de capitales in order to clearly establish where each of the real red lines are when it comes to the do's and don'ts of the Constitution.

For the moment, however, the main controversial points remain. Spain, which is putting up the fiercest fight for fundamental changes in the Constitution by arguing to keep the current voting system, has not budged.

Poland, another fierce fighter on the voting issue, has also been sticking to its guns.

For its part, the Italian Presidency would like to wrap the negotiations up by the EU Summit in mid-December.

But the wheeler dealing is likely to go on until the eleventh hour and success will depend not just on the member states' readiness to compromise but also on Mr Berlusconi's personal ability to broker a deal.

The draft does not have to be ready this year - although EU leaders in June agreed that it should be ready in time for the European elections next year.

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