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EU ministers mull re-naming constitution to enhance ratification chances
EU ministers mull re-naming constitution to enhance ratification chances

[JURIST] EU foreign ministers wrapping up a two day meeting [JURIST report] in Austria Sunday agreed to extend the "period of reflection" on the stalled European constitution [JURIST news archive] for another year through the end of the German presidency of the EU in June 2007, but floated the possibility of re-naming the instrument in an effort to allay fears over loss of national sovereignty and push along the ratification process. So far the charter has been approved by 15 of the 25 EU states, but rejections in referenda in France [JURIST report] and the Netherlands [JURIST report] last year have forced a rethink on how to proceed.

Finnish Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja told reporters "Everybody agrees it was a mistake to call it a constitution, so that would be a sensible change", with German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier adding "We in Germany live with a 'Basic Law', which does not carry the title 'constitution' but has the same legal quality. It's a possible starting point." European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso was somewhat less sanguine, however, saying "If someone finds a better name, great. But what is important is to recommit ourselves to this vision of Europe." The Scotsman has more.