Poland 'may veto' EU constitution
Poland may veto a proposed new European constitution if its voting rights are downgraded, says the Polish president. Aleksander Kwasniewski is due to meet German chancellor Gerhard Schroeder on Thursday to discuss the issue ahead of the weekend's EU summit in Brussels. Poland and Spain want to keep voting rights they gained three years ago. The new proposals suggest distribution of votes in the European Commission should be proportional to the size of population of member states. Under current rules, Poland and Spain have almost as many votes as countries such as Germany and France, which have much bigger populations. "If the position is what is in the treaty, without the chance for compromise, we cannot say yes," Mr Kwasniewski told the BBC's Europe correspondent Stephen Sackur. "We are right to fight for good equilibrium in the European Union," he added.
The issue, together with a separate defence row, is threatening to bring down the entire constitution at this weekend's summit in Brussels. Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi - whose country holds the rotating EU presidency - said on Wednesday he had a plan to break the deadlock, but would not reveal it yet. "I have in my pocket a formula which I believe gives Poland and Spain recognition as big countries," he said on Wednesday. "I will pull it out at the last minute and we will see if it will be accepted by these two countries." The row centres on a promise won by Poland and Spain at the Nice summit in 2000, giving them 27 votes each on Europe's powerful Council of Ministers. That compares to 29 for Germany, which has double the population. The draft constitution tries to redress the balance, but Spain and Poland have refused to back down. France and Germany on the other side of the argument have also dug their heels in.