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Finland parliament ratifies EU constitution

[JURIST] Finland's parliament voted to ratify the proposed European Constitution [text; JURIST news archive] Tuesday, taking steps toward becoming the 16th country to ratify the charter as Finland's six-month presidency of the European Union [official website] comes to a close. Parliament members voted 125-39 to ratify the EU constitution, with four MPs abstaining. Finnish President Tarja Halonen [official website] must now also approve ratification. While Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen [official website] promised at the start of the country's term holding the EU presidency not to push for ratification until consensus had been built [JURIST report] among member states, in his speech before the vote [text] Tuesday he said that Europe needs reform. Vanhanen said the constitutional treaty is a well balanced package, and it would be better for EU states to not "cherry pick" from the agreement.

Germany, which has also taken steps to ratifying the document, will take over the EU presidency next month. Last month German officials expressed concern about the future of the constitution [JURIST report], given the political views of the two leading contenders for the French presidency. Both have expressed reservations about approving the charter after French voters rejected it [JURIST report] last May. The Netherlands also overwhelmingly rejected the constitution [JURIST report] in 2005. Of the countries that have ratified the constitution, most hope it will be saved without major changes. Some countries that have delayed ratification would rather that the treaty not be revived at all. The EU constitution requires ratification by all member states before it can take effect. BBC News has more.

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