NEWS

Parliament ratifies new EU Constitution

Nearly six months after Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis signed the new European Union Constitution in Rome, Parliament voted overwhelmingly yesterday to ratify the treaty, despite opposition calls for a referendum. This makes Greece the sixth EU member to formally approve the constitution, after Lithuania, Hungary, Slovenia and Italy. While Spaniards backed the treaty in a referendum, final approval from their Parliament is still pending. Top EU officials in Brussels quickly expressed their pleasure. «On behalf of the European Commission, I welcome with great satisfaction the ratification of the European Constitution by the Greek Parliament,» Vice President Margot Wallstrom said in a statement. «We are pleased to note the overwhelming support in the vote for the constitution. Greece once again confirmed its European vocation.» The 300-member house voted by 268-17 in favor of ratifying the treaty, which was signed on October 29. There were 15 abstentions. While opposition PASOK MPs, who backed the constitution, joined with their colleagues from ruling New Democracy in applause after the vote, 115 of the party’s deputies still signed a petition – seconded by 18 Greek Communist Party and Synaspismos Left Coalition MPs – for a referendum to be held on the matter. The government has ruled that out ever since the Rome signing. The petition will be debated after the Easter holidays.