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EU constitution treaty in trouble at Brussels summit

[JURIST] European leaders continued to grapple Friday with disagreements over a proposed EU constitution treaty [JURIST news archive] on the second day of the summit meeting [EU Council press release] in Brussels. Britain threatened to veto a watered-down version of the treaty unless it incorporated four non-negotiable issues [JURIST report] outlined by UK Prime Minister Tony Blair [official website] earlier this week. Among the four points, Blair demanded that the UK retain the ability to opt out of a European Charter of Fundamental Rights [European Parliament materials], that the treaty not supersede British national law, and that it not restrict British foreign policy. Blair also said the treaty should avoid all the trappings of a "constitution," and should merely amend earlier agreements.

Poland also threatened to veto the proposed treaty unless it were guaranteed voting rights equal to those established in the 2000 Nice Treaty [JURIST report]; the EU is considering a voting system based on each country's population, which would reduce Poland's voting weight. In response to Polish objections, German chancellor Angela Merkel [official website] threatened to call a conference on a draft EU treaty without Poland's input. Merkel met with Polish President Lech Kaczynski before the summit reconvened on Friday, but a preliminary agreement was rejected by his Polish Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski [official websites]. Jaroslaw Kaczynski later appeared on Polish television to say talks "had hit a wall." AP has more. BBC News has additional coverage and more on individual countries' objections to the treaty.

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