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France urges pursuing EU treaty

From Reuters

French President Nicolas Sarkozy led calls Saturday for the European Union to press on with ratifying its new treaty, but Ireland’s “no” vote revived talk of pro-European capitals forming their own club.

Sarkozy said the rejection of the pact in a referendum Thursday should not spark a crisis and confirmed that British Prime Minister Gordon Brown had assured him he that would defy Euroskeptics and pursue its endorsement.

“Today, 18 European states have ratified. The others must continue to ratify . . . so that this Irish incident does not become a crisis,” Sarkozy said at a news conference with President Bush in Paris.

Others also interpreted Britain’s swift pledge to pursue ratification as a sign it would back a joint effort by France and Germany to salvage the pact, known as the Lisbon Treaty, during the French presidency of the EU later this year.

But Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker, a veteran EU deal-maker, was downbeat, forecasting the emergence of a two-speed Europe in which a small grouping of EU states would develop policy initiatives by themselves.

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“Given that it is increasingly hard to get all states moving together, probably the only thing left is a ‘Club of the Few,’ ” said Juncker, who is a contender for the powerful EU president post to be formed under the treaty.


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