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Two-day summer European summit opens in Brussels Thursday
A two-day summer European summit opens in Brussels Thursday, which is expected to break the deadlock in the process towards a European Union Constitution. According to European media, Germany, which holds the EU presidency, has developed proposals for the 27-member body to reach a consensus through a simplified version of the draft Constitution. A treaty establishing the Constitution was signed in Rome in 2004 and was in the process of ratification, but France and the Netherlands refused to ratify it following referendums. This provoked some countries to postpone ratification of the document, which would have come into effect in November 2006. So far 18 member states have ratified the treaty either at parliamentary level or by referendum. French President Nicolas Sarkozy said the Constitution should be replaced with a simpler treaty, whose adoption would require nothing but parliament's approval. The proposal suggests that all constitutional symbols, ranging from a single European flag and anthem to the very word "constitution" - be left out, but provisions on the EU presidency, the post of foreign minister, and voting in the Council of Ministers be kept in place. Poland and the United Kingdom are key opponents to the current constitutional treaty. Poland objects to a new method proposed for decision making known as the "double majority", which Warsaw says weakens the positions of average-sized countries in favor of the U.K., France, and Germany. The sixth largest EU member has proposed using the square root of a member state's population to calculate the number of votes it will wield. This would give Poland six votes and Germany, the population leader, nine. British Prime Minister Tony Blair has come up with a number of demands, including maintaining Britain's sovereignty in foreign policy, tax and judicial legislation for the Constitution to be ratified. Amsterdam is pressing for devolving more powers to national parliaments, particularly the power to block some EU decisions. According to a Eurobarometer public opinion survey, 66% of EU residents want the EU Constitution ratified. The poll covered 444,406 respondents from all 27 member states
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