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Wording makes referendum less likely

THE wording of the new EU treaty makes the prospect of a referendum being required less likely.

The deal at December's EU summit to proceed with the tough new budgetary rules certainly pointed towards a referendum.

The agreement clearly stated the fiscal rule on keeping budgets in balance or surplus would also "be introduced in member states' national legal systems at constitutional or equivalent level".

But the final wording, agreed yesterday, is watered down enough to avoid entry in the Constitution.

The key section, on the limit on borrowing, states: "The rules mentioned under . . . shall take effect in the national law of binding force and permanent character, preferably constitutional, or otherwise guaranteed to be fully respected and adhered to throughout the national budgetary processes."

Another indication full-scale insertion into the Constitution might not be necessary is: "This treaty shall be ratified . . . in accordance with their respective constitutional requirements."

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