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Germany

Köhler Halts Ratification of EU Constitution

German President Horst Köhler on Wednesday decided to halt his country's ratification of the EU constitution as Germany's highest court is still reviewing an appeal against the treaty's approval.

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The German president wants judges to decide before he signs

Köhler said he will not sign the ratification into law until judges at the Federal Constitutional Court have made a decision on the appeal.

Both chambers of Germany's parliament, the lower house Bundestag and the Bundesrat, which represents the German states, had ratified the constitution with an overwhelming majority in May.

Peter Gauweiler, a parliamentarian and member of Bavaria's conservative Christian Social Union party, had filed an appeal with the court, claiming that the parliament was not entitled to replace Germany's constitution with another one. He said such a step could only be taken by way of a referendum.

The appeal has little chance of success, however, as Gauweiler already failed to convince judges with an earlier appeal in April.

A further setback

EU Verfassung in der Sackgasse, Symbolbild

Has the EU reached a dead end?

But Köhler's decision to halt ratification represents a further setback for the document after French and Dutch voters rejected the constitution in referendums on May 29 and June 1 respectively.

Britain subsequently said it would postpone a planned referendum until further notice, throwing into doubt the constitution's chance of survival. Besides Germany, 10 of the 25 member states have so far ratified the treaty.

EU leaders are meeting in Brussels on Thursday to discuss the union's future. Apart from the constitution, the EU budget has also caused a rift between member states as Britain is unwilling to give up a decade-old rebate and others, including France, refuse to renegotiate subsidies for their agricultural sectors.

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