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EUOBSERVER / NAPLES - EU foreign ministers will tomorrow (29 November) tackle the most controversial issues on the Constitutional agenda - those that deal with the division of power in a future EU.

Up until now the member states have been polarised on the issues - which include vote weighting in the council of ministers and the number of the Commissioners per member state - but have not properly discussed them.

As ever, at this eleventh hour, the fronts remain the same. Both Poland and Spain are pushing to keep the vote weighting under the Nice Treaty.

Agreed acrimoniously in 2000, the Nice Treaty gives the two countries a relatively beneficial vote weighting.

Both have 27 votes in the council of ministers while Germany, with a far bigger population has 29 votes.

The new voting system under the draft Constitution proposes that a decision would be taken when at least half of the countries representing 60 per cent of the population agreed.

Spain and Poland have actively lobbied against this for months and have so far public ally not shown any real movement on the issue.

Polish Foreign Minister Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz during a press conference on Friday afternoon denied that Warsaw would accept an extra Commissioner or extra seats in the European Parliament in return for a climb down on the Nice Treaty.

Moreover, UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw took the opportunity to remind his colleagues that any compromise must be agreed by all and the fallback will be the Nice Treaty.

The Italian Presidency said it would be "stimulating an in depth discussion on voting".

"Nothing is ruled out we will listen to the arguments", said Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini.

Other issues on the agenda include the make up of the Commission in a future EU. The draft Constitution suggests reducing the number of Commissioners with voting power to 15.

This is strongly contested by smaller countries who want "their own" commissioner.

Also, the foreign minister and their scope of power will be discussed. The proposal to introduce qualified majority voting in common foreign and security policy when the foreign minister makes a proposal has already been strongly rejected by the UK.

The tone of Saturday's discussions will indicate how successful the final summit of EU leaders on the Constitution (12-13 December) is likely to be.


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