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EU Leaders Open Lisbon Summit on New European Treaty

European Union leaders have opened a summit in Lisbon, Portugal, aimed at settling a two-year dispute on how the group should be run.

The 27 leaders are examining a draft treaty that would streamline EU institutions and speed up decision-making at the two-day meeting.

Ahead of the summit, Portuguese Foreign Minister Jose Socrates, whose country currently holds the rotating EU presidency, acknowledged that some problems remain with the draft.  German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she expects difficult negotiations.

Italy is threatening to veto the new treaty, due to changes under which it would lose six of its current 78 seats in the European Parliament and lose parity with Britain and France.

For his part, Polish President Lech Kaczynski repeated Polish demands that the treaty include a provision allowing a minority of nations to temporarily delay EU decisions.

If approved, the treaty would extend the EU rotating presidency to a two-year term and give the bloc more say in foreign and internal security policy.  The document would replace the draft EU constitution rejected by French and Dutch voters in 2005.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

 

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