EU constitution to get another chance?

Finnish Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja on Monday urged European Union members to revise the contents of a proposed constitutional treaty for the 25-member bloc, and called for a real European debate of the failed issue.

"We have not declared the constitutional treaty dead," Tuomioja said during a brief visit to the Estonian capital. "Next year, we will have to start debating the real issues and see what can be done."

Tuomioja, who discussed bilateral relations and the EU with Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Paet, said there was a common understanding within the union that a revised draft treaty should not be called a constitution because it creates "so many false impressions."

Earlier this year, French and Dutch voters rejected the proposed EU constitution, causing a major setback for the bloc and postponing the project.

Tuomioja also briefed Paet on preparations for Finland's six-month rotating presidency of the EU, due to start in July 2006. He said developing EU-Russia relations and promoting the union's enlargement talks with Turkey and Croatia would be among the top priorities.

Before leaving for the one-day visit to Tallinn, Tuomioja said the EU was taking on an increasingly important role in global affairs, the AP reports.


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