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EU agrees to reform itself

Brussels, June 23
European Union leaders clinched an agreement today on a mandate to overhaul the 27-nation bloc after persuading Poland to end a stand-off that nearly torpedoed a marathon summit.

The leaders agreed to negotiate a reform treaty by the end of this year, to be ratified by mid-2009, replacing the EU constitution rejected in 2005 by French and Dutch voters.

The 4.30 a.m (0800 IST) deal could re-launch the political integration of Europe after two years of gloom and introspection since referendums sank the constitution, dramatising public disaffection with a project seen as remote and bureaucratic.

Provided it is ratified this time, the treaty should give Europe stronger leadership, a streamlined decision-making process, a bigger voice on the world stage and more say for the European and national parliaments.

“If we had not achieved this today, we would have ended up in a rather disastrous situation because many would have felt they were pushed too far,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel told a news conference after brokering the deal. — Reuters

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