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Last Updated: Saturday, 4 June, 2005, 16:04 GMT 17:04 UK
Chirac and Schroeder discuss EU
French President Jacques Chirac and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder
The mood is likely to be more sombre at tonight's dinner
French President Jacques Chirac is due to meet German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder after a week of EU turmoil.

The two leaders will discuss in Berlin how to repair the damage after voters in France and the Netherlands rejected the EU's first constitution.

They have already said the ratification process should continue across the EU.

Meanwhile, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso has said the bloc must not fall into paralysis despite the setbacks.

He urged EU leaders to "turn a crisis into an opportunity".

Berlin talks

Mr Chirac may feel a tinge of envy when he sits down for dinner with Gerhard Schroeder later on Saturday, the BBC's Ray Furlong in Berlin says.

We have a responsibility not to take refuge in paralysis
Jose Manuel Barroso

The German leader got the EU constitution ratified in parliament almost unanimously, avoiding the mess that a referendum might have caused.

The two leaders know there is considerable scepticism about the ratification process continuing and are particularly concerned that Britain might declare the constitution dead before the EU summit in mid-June, our correspondent says.

That meeting will also discuss the EU budget covering 2007-2013.

Germany, the biggest contributor to EU funds, wants Britain to make concessions over the budget rebate won by Margaret Thatcher in 1984.

But this would be politically explosive in the UK, our correspondent says.

Mr Schroeder can, however, at least expect support for the idea from Mr Chirac.

'Intelligent synthesis'

Speaking in Messina, Italy, earlier on Saturday, Mr Barroso said: "It is vital that we use the present moment to forge a new consensus."

"What we need now is an intelligent synthesis between the market and the state which can help Europe win and not lose in the face of globalisation," he said.

"It is the role of the Commission... to avoid a confrontation between the different models or perceptions in Europe."

Mr Barroso was apparently referring to the French referendum on the EU constitution, which revealed local fears that Europe may be increasingly turning to the "Anglo-Saxon" liberal economic model.

However, Mr Barroso added that he "cannot see how to reopen negotiations with a view to revising the constitution".

"Its text represents a very delicate compromise which took several years to work out," he said.


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