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Last Updated: Saturday, 27 May 2006, 16:31 GMT 17:31 UK
EU charter 'won't be revived yet'
By Oana Lungescu
BBC News, Vienna

EU foreign ministers meet in Austria
EU officials meet at Klosterneuburg to discuss the bloc's future
EU foreign ministers have said there is little immediate hope of re-launching the EU constitution, a year after French and Dutch voters rejected it.

Several ministers called for another year to reflect on what to do about the constitution, as they started a two-day meeting at a monastery near Vienna.

Some think the constitution could still be revived by the end of the decade.

The constitution had aimed to make decision-making easier in an enlarged EU of 25 members or more.

'No agreement'

Amid the baroque splendour of a monastery overlooking the Danube, there is talk of resurrecting Europe's constitution - but not just yet.

The Spanish foreign minister claimed the treaty was not actually dead, as 15 EU countries have already ratified it.

But his Dutch colleague said the EU should prolong the reflection period started after the French and Dutch referendums by one more year.

The British Minister for Europe Geoff Hoon sees no reason to hurry.

"I'm sure we'll be considering a way forward but what is important is that we all agree on the way forward and that will take some time to get this right for the European Union," Mr Hoon said.

"There is no agreement at the present stage, we're in very early days of those discussions but it's important we get those discussions right for the future of Europe."

Results needed

All eyes are on the French and Dutch elections next spring and then on Germany, which will hold the EU rotating presidency in the first half of next year.

The German foreign minister promised to come up with more substantial ideas then. He also called for Europe to show more self-confidence.

Germany, like Austria, Luxembourg and the European Commission, is pushing for a new treaty by 2009, in time for the next European Parliament election.

Meanwhile, all agree that more tangible results are needed to revive people's faith in the European project, in areas of most concern to them - unemployment, terrorism, immigration and crime.




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