Parliament to ratify new EU Constitution

While promising a «public dialogue» on the new European Union Constitution Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis signed in Rome yesterday, the government ignored opposition calls for a referendum and clarified that the document would be ratified by Parliament. Government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos said this would happen «within a short period of time.» After the signing, Karamanlis said the new Constitution would help make the 25-member EU «more functional and efficient.» «It is very important that the Constitutional Treaty upholds the principle of ‘one commissioner per member state,’ at least until 2014,» he said. «It is also important that cooperation on defense and security is strengthened, with the solidarity clause, among other means.» Opposition leader George Papandreou urged the government to ratify the new Constitution through a referendum. «[Yesterday’s] signing of the Constitution will outreach the confines of a formal ceremony when Greeks, together with [other] European citizens, are called to approve their own decision, through their own vote, on this Constitution,» the Socialist PASOK chairman said. The Greek Communist Party and Synaspismos Left Coalition both criticized the new Constitution. In Athens, left-wing groups held a protest in central Syntagma Square yesterday evening against the document’s signing. Protesters expressed concern that by overruling national legislation the new Constitution would have detrimental effects on workers’ labor and social rights by restricting democratic freedoms.