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Page last updated at 07:10 GMT, Friday, 20 June 2008 08:10 UK

Sarkozy warning on EU expansion

Nicolas Sarkozy, Paris, 19 June 2008
France holds the EU presidency from July 2008

French President Nicolas Sarkozy has said the European Union will not be able to expand further without ratification of the Lisbon Treaty.

An EU summit in Brussels has exposed divisions over how to proceed with the reform treaty - which was rejected by Irish voters in a referendum last week.

A decision on what to do next is expected to be postponed until October.

The leaders are now expected to discuss

Zimbabwe. A draft statement threatens increasing EU sanctions on the country.

Wrong signal

Mr Sarkozy's comments about EU expansion came after clear divisions emerged over the future of the treaty and the meeting decided that the Irish should report back in October on possible ways out of the impasse.

"Without the Treaty of Lisbon there won't be any enlargement," he said.

"You can't say no to reforms and yes to enlargement."

The BBC's Mark Mardell looks at the options open to EU leaders after the Irish vote

The BBC's Jonny Dymond says one diplomat described Mr Sarkozy's comments as a threat - and the wrong signal to send to the Irish people - and those of Croatia and Turkey, who hope to join the 27-member bloc.

Mr Sarkozy did add that he would travel to Ireland when France takes over the rotating EU presidency in July to help find a solution.

The treaty must be ratified by all member states to take effect. Nineteen have approved it so far, the latest of which was the UK, where it passed through parliament on Wednesday.

Czech brakes

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso urged respect for the Irish "No" vote but said he was confident all the countries would complete the ratification process. He ruled out renegotiating the reform treaty.

LISBON TREATY PROGRESS
Approved by parliament: Austria, Bulgaria, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, UK
Defeated by referendum: Irish Republic
Challenges: Legal objections in Czech Republic
No firm date: Belgium, Cyprus, Netherlands (held up by referendum proposal), Italy (new government), Spain (new government), Sweden

"When a treaty is signed by 27 governments it's not just for fun," he said. "It's inconceivable that a government signs a treaty without the intention of ratifying it. It's a principle of international law."

Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Jansa, whose country is the current holder of the EU presidency, said enlargement should not be a victim of the delay in ratifying the treaty.

"I believe we'll find a way out of the situation before any candidate country is ready for a decision on accession to be taken in the EU," he said. "I don't think the commission wants to slow down the process."

Germany rejected the idea of moving ahead on Lisbon without Ireland, which won strong Czech backing at the summit.

Our correspondent says concern is swirling around the intentions of the Czech government.

Pressed on whether he intended to ratify the treaty, Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek said that he was not going to put the brakes on to halt ratification.

But he added he would not bet 100 crowns (3; $6) on a "Yes" from parliament.

Packages

On the second of the two-day summit, the leaders were expected to turn their attention to Zimbabwe's presidential run-off vote.

HAVE YOUR SAY
The challenge for the EU now is to establish whether the diplomats' plan is in the best interests of the European electorate
Richard, Amsterdam
The draft conclusions say the EU is ready "to take additional measures against those responsible for violence".

Current EU sanctions on Zimbabwe include a travel ban for senior officials, a freeze on financial assets held in the EU, and an arms embargo.

The statement comes amid international concern over rising political violence in Zimbabwe.

On Thursday, the leaders agreed to scrap diplomatic sanctions against Cuba imposed in 2003.

Mr Barroso has also been pressing for the summit to focus on other issues such as fuel and food prices. After the first day of the summit, he announced:

  • an emergency package for fisheries, amounting to 30,000 euros (23,600) per vessel
  • An extended programme to distribute food aid inside the EU to the most deprived people, increasing the aid from 300m euros (236m) a year to 500m euros (393m) a year
  • A new EU fund to help the agricultural sector in developing countries




FROM OTHER NEWS SITES
Los Angeles Times EU to conditionally lift Cuba sanctions - 1 hr ago
Washington PostE.U. Ready to Lift Diplomatic Sanctions on Cuba - 1 hr ago
San Luis Obispo.com EU urges action on fuel crisis, treaty - 2 hrs ago
Houston Chronicle EU pushes Ireland to salvage Lisbon Treaty - 2 hrs ago
Beaufort Gazette EU agrees to lift 5-year-old sanctions on Cuba - 2 hrs ago
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