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Chancellor Wants EU Charter Ratified in 2004

German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder spoke out in favor of a speedy ratification in parliament of the new EU Constitution on Friday. "It's my hope that we achieve this before the end of the year," Schröder told the Financial Times Deutschland, adding that he intends to discuss the matter with each of the parliamentary groups. While on an official visit to London on Thursday, Schröder said that Germany -- unlike the UK and several other countries -- will not be holding a referendum on the constitution, which lays out new rules to streamline institutions in an enlarged European Union. "There will be referendum in the UK, we must accept that," Schröder said. "The German constitution does not allow for a referendum. We will have a parliamentary process." The constitution seems certain to be passed as it enjoys cross-party support in Germany. If Schröder's wishes come true, Germany will be the first EU country to ratify the new document.

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