France: Minister urges states to ratify European reform treaty

Paris, 19 June (AKI) – European Union states that have not yet ratified the European reform treaty should press ahead and do so, France’s immigration minister Brice Hortefeux, told Adnkronos International (AKI).

The treaty is intended to streamline the bloc’s decision-making and would establish a European president and foreign minister.

The countries yet to ratify the treaty, which include Italy, Spain, Belgium and the Netherlands should be undeterred by Ireland’s rejection of the treaty last week, Hortefeux said.

Hortefeux’s remarks came as European Union leaders were gathered for a two-day summit in Brussels on Thursday and Friday which Ireland’s recent rejection of the European treaty is expected to dominate.

Speaking ahead of the summit, Italy’s prime minister Silvio Berlusconi said in Rome on Thursday that Italy will push for the acceptance of the reform treaty by all its members.

“Ireland, will have to present its own solution,” Berlusconi added, referring to last week’s referendum in which Ireland rejected the treaty.

The treaty cannot be implemented unless it is approved by all 27 EU states. Only Ireland has held a referendum. Eight states have yet to ratify the treaty.

The EU was plunged into crisis in 2005 when Dutch and French referendums rejected a previous – more ambitious – draft European constitution.

France next month takes on the rotating EU presidency and Hortefeux said he has toured the capitals of most EU states to explain the key principles of the treaty.

“EU states agree on one of its basic principles – forging a common European policy on immigration to ensure that only legal immigrants enter the bloc by strengthening border controls and the concept of asylum,” he said.

France will next month take in around 500 Iraqi refugees from “persecuted minorities,” mainly Chaldean Christians,, Hortefeux said.