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Europe

Constitution deal possible in 2004, says Prodi

European Commission President Romano Prodi has said he believes that a deal on the EU Constitution could be reached in 2004.

"I think so, but I am also confident that it could be during the first half of the year," Prodi said on Tuesday. His words followed a generally upbeat meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels on Monday when several member states stressed the importance of striking a deal as soon as possible. Member states are aware that if the talks - which collapsed at a summit last - slide into late 2004, or 2005, the problems are only likely to be greater. At this time, a new European Commission will be finding its feet, while talks on future funding of the EU - always a bitter subject - will have taken off. The current EU Presidency, Ireland, will present a progress report on the Constitution to EU leaders at a Summit in March and from there will be decided whether to pursue a deal in earnest. (EUobserver.com)

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