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Polish PM offers veto concession

WARSAW, MAY 31. Poland has made a half-hearted effort to break the deadlock over a new European constitution.

The interim Prime Minister, Marek Belka, offered to adjust the country's opposition to the new model of decision-taking favoured by the vast majority of the E.U.'s 25 members. But his proposal is unlikely to win much support, especially in Germany.

Poland, the E.U.'s biggest new member, blocked an agreement on the constitution last December and a frantic effort is now under way to secure accord at the Brussels summit on June 17-18. The main conflict is between Germany and Poland. In Warsaw last week, Germany's Chancellor, Gerhard Schroeder, warned of the risk of ``a fiasco'' at the summit and urged the Poles to make concessions.

The constitutional draft foresees majority decisions going ahead when at least half of the member states making up 60 per cent of the E.U. population are in favour. Mr. Belka said Poland now ``accepted in principle'' the double majority principle, but rejected a system that could have big European Union members imposing their will. He told the German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine in an interview published yesterday that E.U. members comprising at least 20 per cent of the Union's population of 450 million should be able to object on important issues. ``The question is what this so-called veto should achieve,'' he was quoted as saying. ``It should not be a blockade, but the trigger for a real and serious consultation mechanism.''He did not elaborate on how that mechanism might work.

The Irish Government, which currently holds the E.U.'s presidency, has been canvassing views on how to amend the constitutional arithmetic on majority voting, but the Polish proposal goes too far for Berlin to stomach.

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