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Germany, Spain may push ahead on EU constitution without France or UK

A group of European Union governments led by Germany and Spain may press ahead with the deeper political integration set out in the bloc's constitution without France or the UK, said Spanish EU Affairs Minister Alberto Navarro.

„We can't all advance at the pace of the slowest,” Navarro told journalists in Madrid on Friday after a meeting of 20 EU governments that support the constitution. „To progress in Europe, we often have to do it with a group of countries that are prepared to move forward. We have the example of the euro. We must be prepared to take that step.” European leaders must decide how to proceed with the constitutional project when the „period of reflection” ends in June under Germany's presidency.

Germany has long been a proponent of the constitution to overcome shortcomings in the existing Nice treaty. The process of ratifying the constitution was halted in 2005 when voters in France and the Netherlands rejected the text in successive referendums. Supporters of the treaty will try to win approval for the text by adding further clauses to the document, Navarro said. „Europe doesn't need a minimalist solution,” Luxembourg's Europe Minister Nicolas Schmit said at the press conference.

„Europe needs a maximalist solution that allows us to resolve the problems of our times. We want to send a message of support to the German presidency.” French presidential candidate Nicolas Sarkozy is calling for a „mini-treaty” that would strengthen the EU's decision-making efficiency while dropping provisions, such as the extension of the bloc's powers in foreign and internal affairs, that rankled the French electorate. (Bloomberg)