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Blair says UK referendum not needed to ratify new EU treaty

[JURIST] UK Prime Minister Tony Blair said Friday that the United Kingdom [JURIST news archive] does not need to hold a referendum to approve a new treaty to replace the failed European Constitution [text; JURIST news archive]. Earlier this week, Blair joined Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende [official website] in advocating amendments to current EU treaties rather than reviving the constitution [JURIST reports], as Germany and other EU states have vowed to do. According to Blair and Balkenende, the amendments would clarify the division of powers between the European Commission (EC) [official website] and member states and expand the role of national parliaments. Blair said such amendments, since they would not alters the basic relationship between Europe and the member states, would not require a referendum.

The fate of the constitution has been hotly debated since it was rejected by voters in France and the Netherlands [JURIST reports] in 2005. EU members are expected to discuss an outline of the type of treaty or amendments to govern the EU at a summit to be held in Brussels in June. Blair added that his views are shared by UK Chancellor Gordon Brown [official profile], who is seen as Blair's likely successor. Blair is expected to announce his resignation in May, and the June summit would be his last international negotiation as a head of state. AFP has more.

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