European leaders are meeting in Brussels to try to hammer out a deal on a new EU treaty. It is the final summit for Germany at the head of the bloc’s rotating presidency – Chancellor Angela Merkel has been working hard on trying to find agreement between members.
It is also the last meeting of its kind for British prime minister Tony Blair who’s made clear London will opt out if it is not satisfied:
“We need to get this result and I hope very much it can be done, but the 4 areas we set down we do need satisfied and we do need satisfied in full,” Blair told journalists.
For France’s newly-elected president Nicolas Sarkozy, however, it is a first – since his election in May, he has been pushing for a so-called mini-treaty to replace the moribund constutition.
Eighteen members have ratified the constitutional treaty, but there is broad agreement to cut it significantly, to allow France, the Netherlands and Britain to avoid risky referendums.
Chances of reaching a deal appear to have risen after chief critic Poland softened its tone, saying it could accept the EU voting system it has been opposing for months if it is given a bigger say in EU matters.