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Europe

EU Ministers Bid to Avoid Referendum "No" Vote

MEPs have called on member states to hold their referenda on the European Constitution within the same week next year in a bid to reduce the chances of a no vote.


The days running up to the sixtieth anniversary of the end of the Second World War -- May 5-8 -- were chosen by MEPs for their "symbolic value." The resolution, passed on Thursday goes on to call for the ratification process in all member states to be completed by June 2006. It calls for the Constitution to be presented in "as clear, fair and comprehensive a way as possible." Two MEPs have also been chosen to explain the text -- which runs to well over 300 pages -- to their national counterparts. UK Socialist MEP Richard Corbett and Spanish Centre-Right MEP Iñigo Mendez de Vigo will travel to member states if asked. "If we are invited by national parliaments to a hearing [on the Constitution], then we are entitled to go," Corbett told the EUobserver. MEPs who are against the Constitution have been asking for both sides of the debate to be presented. Corbett and Mendez de Vigo are expecting to travel to various member states "soon" as some invitations from national parliaments are already in the pipeline. The first referendum among the member states is expected to be held in Spain which has already set a definite date -- February 20. With the formal signing of the Constitution to take place in a little over two weeks - October 29 - the European Parliament is hoping to become the first parliament in the EU to state its position on the Constitutional treaty. Due to be adopted on December 15 in Strasbourg, the EU assembly is hoping to give positive momentum to other parliaments. The Constitution cannot come into force until all member states have ratified it either by referendum or via national parliaments.

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