Auteur: | By Mark Beunderman
EUOBSERVER/ BRUSSELS - It has emerged that Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi talked out of turn last Friday (2 July) when he announced 20 November as the date of the signing of the EU Constitution.
Mr Berlusconi stated on Friday after a meeting with French President Jacques Chirac, "we will gather together on November 20 in Rome for the signing ceremony".
After Mr Berlusconi's comments, Dutch Foreign Minister Bernard Bot made it clear on Friday that the decision on the date was up to the Dutch EU presidency.
He added that the Dutch would announce the date during the upcoming EU Foreign Ministers' meeting on 13 July - after consultations with all 25 EU member states.
One Italian diplomat admitted to the EUobserver today that Mr Berlusconi's announcement had been premature.
"We understand that [the date] is a decision which is up to the presidency. We don't want to substitute the presidency ".
He added: "[Mr Berlusconi] proposed a date which suits Italy, but other Prime Ministers may have other preferences."
A city, not a date
Dutch diplomats told this news-site today that no date has been agreed upon yet, as it is difficult to match the agendas of the EU 25 heads of state and government.
However, contrary to the date of the signing ceremony, its location has definitely been decided.
Rome was agreed by EU leaders in Brussels on 30 June as the city where the Constitution should be adopted - at the special wishes of Mr Berlusconi.
If ratified by all member states, the Constitution will replace the original Treaty of Rome, which was signed in 1957.