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Europe's Middleweights Fight Their Corner

Spain, Italy and Poland - the EU’s political middleweights - have expressed reservations over a meeting of the continent’s three big hitters, Britain, France and Germany.

A host of ministers and prime ministers have come out to express their worries about the British, French and German trilateral summit held earlier this week in Berlin. Objections ranged from scepticism to agitation, with some opposing the meeting and others raising questions about its outcome - a proposal to create a vice-president of the Commission responsible for the EU’s economic management. Speaking in Vienna, Spanish foreign Minster Ana Palacio expressed concern about the proposal, worried that it would hamper efforts to agree on a Constitution. "Spain is open to any proposals", said the minister, according to EFE, but only so long as they bring the EU closer to a deal on the Constitution. Last December talks on the text broke down after a row over voting rights for Poland and Spain. So far Spain has been unbending in its demands to be treated as one of the big boys. Her boss and Spain’s premier, Jose Maria Aznar, found fault in the meeting itself, warning against erecting "artificial divisions" within the European Union. Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski too said that he was "sceptical" about the idea of a "European nucleus" although he added that the Berlin summit was useful for strengthening ties. And it is not only the mid-sized countries who are opposed. During a meeting on Thursday Swedish Premier Göran Persson told his British counterpart, Tony Blair, that he did not back the idea of a super commissioner. According to daily Dagens Nyheter, Persson said: "For me, someone who believes in international cooperation and is against a federal Europe, this is of enormous importance." (EUObserver.com)

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