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Last Updated: Tuesday, 1 February, 2005, 19:40 GMT
Slovenia ratifies EU constitution
Slovenian Parliament ahead of the vote
Slovenia's parliament backed the treaty overwhelmingly
Slovenia's parliament has voted overwhelmingly to ratify the European Union constitution.

It is the third country to approve the treaty after it was signed by the EU's 25 member governments.

Last year, Hungary and Lithuania approved the document, which is to be ratified by October 2006.

Several countries will put the issue to a referendum, starting with Spain on 20 February. A single "No" vote could stop the treaty in its tracks.

Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero has said he wants to set a positive example for other member states.

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On Tuesday, Slovenia's MPs supported the move by 79 votes to four.

The treaty is an attempt to streamline EU decision-making, replacing vetoes with majority voting in many areas - though not in foreign affairs, defence, social security, taxation or culture.

French vote

In France, the lower house of parliament has broadly approved a measure that would pave the way for a nationwide referendum to be held this summer on the EU constitution.

No exact date for the vote has been set yet.

MPs voted by 450 to 34 to amend the country's 1958 constitution.

EU countries holding referendums
Czech Republic
Denmark
France
Ireland
Luxembourg
Netherlands
Spain
Portugal
United Kingdom

One of the amendment's provisions makes it mandatory to hold a national referendum before any new entrant to the EU can be admitted.

President Jacques Chirac included the article to reassure a public that is wary of Turkey's candidacy.

The proposal now has to be approved by the Senate, where a vote is scheduled in mid-February.

If, as expected, the measure passes, it will be submitted for final approval by both houses of parliament meeting in congress at the Palace of Versailles, probably in March or April.


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