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Europe

Europe's Motor Plans Emergency Summit

Germany and France, for so long the driving force behind European integration, will hold an emergency summit this weekend to discuss the crisis unfolding after the French and Dutch rejection of the EU constitution.

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Is Europe's Franco-German motor low on gas?

French President Jacques Chirac will hold talks with German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder in the German capital on Saturday about the deeping institutional crisis surrounding the EU, it was announced on Thursday.


The two leaders will take stock of the situation at a working dinner which comes after Dutch voters decided against the EU constitution on Wednesday, dealing the treaty a second blow after France had rejected it at the weekend.


"The French president will go to Berlin on Saturday, June 4, for a face-to-face working dinner with the chancellor, following the referendums in France and the Netherlands," the French president's spokesman Jerome Bonnafont said in Paris. "This working dinner will focus on assessing the current situation and reflecting on the future of European construction."


Frankreiche EU-Referendum Bundeskanzler Gerhard Schröder Kampagne

Schröder said yes. France said no.

Chirac and Schröder are two of the strongest advocates of the EU constitution, and the chancellor put aside his domestic woes to visit France and urge voters to back the constitution ahead of last Sunday's referendum.


Schröder in Luxembourg

In a flurry of meetings following the resounding Dutch rejection, Schröder traveled to Luxembourg on Thursday to hold crisis talks with the current EU president Jean-Claude Juncker.


Despite the refusal from the two founder members of the European Union, Schröder called for the ratification process to continue in the remaining countries of the 25-member bloc. Germany ratified the constitution last week although the process was done only by its two houses of parliament and was not put to a referendum.

Ten countries have now ratified the treaty, two have rejected it, and 13 still have to undergo the process. The parliament of Latvia, one of the ten states which joined the bloc in last year's enlargement, voted in favor of ratifying the constitution on Thursday.

Jan Peter Balkenende

Dutch Prime-minister Jan Peter Balkenende reacts at the result of the Dutch referendum on the European Union's first constitution as 63 percent voted against.

As news of Chirac and Schröder's meeting was announced Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende called on European Union leaders to think less about increasing the EU's range and power and more about making the bloc more accessible to its citizens.


After the crushing blow dealt to the treaty by Dutch voters in Wednesday's referendum Balkenende told Dutch lawmakers that the message his government would take to Brussels was "not always more and always further but how can we bring Europe closer to the people".

Warning from Swedish PM

Gören Persson Euro Reaktionen

Swedish Prime Minister Goran Persson

Meanwhile, Swedish Prime Minister Göran Persson said on Thursday it would be "dangerous" and "stupid" for other EU members to ignore the rejection of the constitution by French and Dutch voters.


"The most dangerous thing now, the most stupid and in my opinion, the least sensible political thing, would be to send a signal that we are not influenced by this. It is clear that we are," Persson told the Swedish news agency TT.


Persson said there was a "current of thinking among European leaders" that the results of the referendums should be ignored, but this was misguided. He hoped that an EU summit meeting in Brussels on June 16 and 17 would result in a "fruitful discussion on how to continue," the prime minister said.


If France or the Netherlands, based on the outcome of their respective votes, asked for a renegotiation of the treaty the process of ratification would be "completely interrupted", he said.


Sweden's parliament is to vote on the treaty before the end of the year, and the government reiterated late on Wednesday that no changes are planned.


"We expect to continue our ratification process," Lars Danielsson, Prime Minister Persson's chief advisor, told AFP after early Dutch results were in. But he acknowledged that pressure for a referendum, rather than a simple parliamentary ratification, will grow.

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