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Schroeder bound for Warsaw

Published on 22/03/2004

22 March 2004

BERLIN – Germany’s Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder is expecting some movement in the push to forge a European constitution when he meets Polish leaders on Tuesday in Warsaw.

But it would be too optimistic to expect a breakthrough in the two nations’ long running dispute over EU voting rights, a spokesman said Monday.

Germany, which complains that it has only the voting power of nations half its size like Poland and Spain, is demanding a reform. Poland, which is to join the European Union on 1 May wants the existing system retained.

“To anticipate a breakthrough would be too optimistic,” said Schroeder spokesman Bela Anda at a Berlin news conference, but added that it was “not without foundation” to hope for movement, given recent statements by Polish officials.

In an interview with Monday’s Financial Times Deutschland newspaper, Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski hinted at compromise, saying the Schroeder visit to Warsaw could be “decisive” for a resumption of talks.

The current clash came to a head at an EU summit in December. The EU has granted Poland speaking rights before it formally joins the grouping.

Last week’s change of government in Spain has given the reform camp fresh hope a deal can be struck on the eve of an EU summit in Brussels this Thursday and Friday. Spain’s Socialist leaders say they will take a more conciliatory stance.



Subject: German news