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Germany

Schröder Hopeful For EU Constitution Compromise

German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder told reporters on Monday that he was still confident the EU would resolve the dispute over voting rights which stands in the way of passing the bloc's first constitution. He said he was counting on the Irish EU presidency to put forward a proposal that will be acceptable to all before June 30, the date Ireland hands over the rotating leadership. After member states failed to agree to voting procedures outlined in the draft constitution at a summit last December and a meeting last week between EU foreign ministers failed to produce a compromise, a final round of talks have been scheduled for mid-June. Schröder said the system of double majority voting contained in the constitution was accepted in principle by everyone, but there was still debate about how it should be implemented. Under the draft proposal, EU laws would need the support of at least 50 percent of member states representing 60 percent of the total population, a distribution that has been criticized by smaller states, notably Spain and Poland, as favoring the EU's most populous members Germany, France and Britain.

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