The UK government wants to see a ‘mini-treaty’ developed in order to avoid any further fiasco during referenda on the EU Constitution.
UK Prime Minister Tony Blair and Chancellor Gordon Brown have taken a tough line in the constitutional debate, The Times reports. They want to avoid having to hold further referenda on an EU Treaty in the run-up to UK general elections in 2009.
According to the paper, Blair would only agree to a “mini-treaty”, as proposed by French presidential candidate Nicolas Sarkozy, which focuses on institutional arrangements. Brown is said to not even be considering any proposals that entail a referendum.
The UK has put the ratification process of the EU Constitution on hold, following the negative outcome of referenda in France and the Netherlands in 2005.
Only last week the 18 member states, which have already ratified the current text, have spoken out in favour of a “maxi-treaty”. This group, the ‘Friends of the Constitution’ proposed to add new elements to the text rather than water it down.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, currently holding the EU Presidency, is bilaterally consulting member states. Merkel is to present a road map for the EU Constitution at a Summit in June 2007, in order to ratify a text ahead of the European Parliament elections in 2009.
The presidency has been criticised for holding secret consultations with high-level representatives from the member states and keeping the debate away from the public.