The lower house of the German parliament has approved ratification of the European Constitution. Unlike other countries Germany is not holding a referendum on the treaty which is intended to ensure the smooth-running of the enlarged European Union. The Bundestag was widely expected to vote for the Constitution by a large majority.All the main parties have given it their backing, but in his speech Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder addressed concerns expressed by some conservative members. He told the chamber the Constitution deserved to be described as ‘historic’. “It is a human work,” he said but added, “of course it doesn’t fulfil every hope and it doesn’t banish every fear. He said it represented a very good and fair compromise. Supporters of the treaty across the EU hope that German ratification will help convince French voters of its merits. France is due to hold a referendum on May 29 and polls show the ‘No’ camp fractionally in the lead.