Thursday

13th Aug 2020

Italy ratifies European Constitution

  • The Constitution was signed in Rome last year (Photo: European Commission)

Italy became the first major EU country to ratify the European Constitution following a parliamentary vote on Wednesday.

A vote by the upper house saw 217 vote in favour and 16 against the new EU charter - the lower house had voted in favour in January.

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The European Commission welcomed the news saying it was "pleased about this ratification" and noted that Italy is the first of the six founding members of the EU to ratify.

This brings the number of countries that have ratified the document to four. Hungary, Lithuania and Slovenia also gave the green light to the EU charter via their parliaments while Spanish citizens voted on it in a referendum in February - but the parliament is also expected to rubberstamp it.

Germany, as the biggest member of the EU, will put the question before its lower house (Bundestag) on 12 May.

However, difficult referendums are still to come.

France is to vote on the Constitution on 29 May, but a yes vote remains far from certain as the debate has become embroiled in several other diverse issues - including Turkish membership of the European Union; an unpopular EU proposal to open the market in services and the general unpopularity of the government.

A no from France would throw the EU into chaos and would probably have a direct effect on the referendums to follow. The Dutch government is already looking into emergency scenarios to cancel its own poll if the French vote no, according to Dutch press agency reports.

The Dutch are due to vote three days later on 1 June. Other polls where it is predicted that it will be a difficult fight to win a yes include Denmark's in September and the UK's next year.

All member states have to ratify the Constitution for it to come into place. If a country does say no, the political solution is set to depend on a series of factors including whether it is a founding member of the EU; how big the country is and whether it is considered to be generally EU-positive or not.

The EU Constitution was signed in Rome on 29 October last year. The final document came of over two years of negotiation - firstly in a convention and then among member states.

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