15th May 2021

Prodi favours two-speed EU if mini-treaty adopted

  • Italy won't sign up to just anything, says Mr Prodi (Photo: European Commission)

Italian leader Romano Prodi has said his country will not "sign up just to any compromise" on the revised EU constitution, adding that a minimalist solution - emerging as the most likely deal ahead of EU talks in June - should prompt member states which favour deeper integration to go ahead on their own.

"For us, the voice of citizens from the countries that ratified the treaty in 2004 has to be valued the same as those from countries that have not. And that's why Italy is not ready to pursue minimal common denominations at any cost," Mr Prodi said on Wednesday (2 May) in Lisbon, according to Italian press.

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The EU constitution, largely ratified by 18 member states including Italy, was rejected by French and Dutch citizens in 2005. The European Union's German presidency is currently preparing a roadmap for adopting a revised version.

Speaking at a debate about the future of Europe at the Portuguese parliament - Lisbon is set to chair the EU from July - Mr Prodi said "we don't necessarily have to proceed all together at the same speed."

"Already now, some significant European projects, such as the euro or the Schengen zone, have been realized by only some member states," he added, referring to the 13-nation strong common currency area and the 13-member EU borderless travel zone.

Mr Prodi's comments come in the context of increasing support for a pared-down EU treaty.

Recently, the Czech Republic, which was previously reluctant to back Berlin's attempts to save the draft EU charter, has confirmed its willingness to accept a short and simple version of the text and to see it ratified by 2009.

With the UK and the Netherlands voicing support for a similar solution, which is to be adopted by parliaments rather than referendums, analysts suggest the EU could strike an important deal on the treaty at its 21 June summit in Brussels.

Question marks still remain over the positions of two of the biggest EU states, France and Poland, however.

The French position will only become clear after the final round of presidential elections this Sunday (6 May), with leading candidate Nicolas Sarkozy favouring a mini-treaty adopted by parliament and Segolene Royal calling for a new referendum on any revised text.

Meanwhile, Poland has warned that it may veto talks on the new treaty if other states are unwilling to explore changes to the proposed EU voting system.

The proposed new rules would see Poland lose power vis-a-vis Germany compared to the current provisions of the Nice treaty.

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