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Blair in Poland for EU deal talks

Fri Apr 27, 2007 11:41 am
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/6598557.stm

Tony Blair is to meet Polish leaders as part of efforts to break the
deadlock over the European constitution.

He will talk to prime minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski and president Lech
Kaczynski in Warsaw on Friday.

The meeting comes ahead of a key EU summit in June, which Mr Blair
is expected to attend as one of his final foreign events before he
leaves office.

The EU is trying to work out new rules to govern its expanded 27
country membership.

In 2005 the EU constitution was put on hold after it was rejected by
two countries in referendums.

It was fully ratified by 16 of the 27 member states but it cannot
come into force unless it is ratified by all 27.

Timetable

Mr Blair has said that the EU needed "more effective rules", adding
that the "sooner it is resolved the better". He held talks with
German Chancellor Angela Merkel earlier this week.

The German EU presidency plans to propose a timetable and some
suggestions on the substance of a future treaty at the June summit.

The Berlin Declaration adopted in March 2007 called for
institutional changes by the European Parliament election in mid-
2009.

Britain and Poland share the view that the EU has been able to work
well without a constitution.

'Sneak'

Although it would be good to streamline some of the EU institutions,
this should be done by tinkering with existing treaties, rather than
replacing all earlier treaties with a big, ambitious constitution,
British officials have said.

And Mr Blair has already backed a Dutch proposal for the EU to push
for changes to existing treaties with the aim of easing some fears
of a European super-state.

But he has been accused by opponents, including the UK Independence
Party, of trying to "sneak" the constitution through without a
referendum which UKIP says he would "lose heavily".

UKIP leader Nigel Farage said: "Every time a new treaty comes on the
horizon they describe it as a 'tidying up exercise' or 'amendments'.
The reality is that each treaty drags us further into a country
called Europe."

As part of his diplomatic talks on the issue, Mr Blair also met
Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende earlier this month.