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However, after 16 months of debate, delegates had to leave some key items including national vetoes on foreign policy and taxation issues unresolved to meet the deadline of having a text to present to E.U. leaders at their summit next week in Greece.
As champagne glasses clinked to celebrate, the convention Chairman, Valery Giscard d'Estaing, told a packed chamber at the European Parliament that history had been made. ``Support was virtually unanimous for the draft Constitution,'' Mr. Giscard d'Estaing proclaimed. ``We were asked to draft a Constitution and we came back with one ... This text stands as the foundation of a treaty embodying the European Constitution.''
Many delegates declared the 300-page draft a watershed moment in shaping a new Europe, with new powers needed to make the 15-nation E.U. run more effectively once it takes in 10 new members next year. ``This text first of all is a legal revolution, with no precedent,'' said the Spanish Foreign Minister, Ana Palacio, while the German Foreign Minister, Joschka Fischer, hailed the accord as ``worthy of the word historic.''
The French Foreign Minister, Dominique de Villepin, said the draft would make Europe a key player on the world stage. ``We are setting up a new political age, more efficient, more democratic, assuming (Europe's) full role on the world stage,'' Mr. De Villepin said.
``This will be a good foundation for final negotiations,'' said Britain's chief negotiator, Peter Hain.
The end result will determine whether the bloc remains a loose alliance of sovereign countries or moves toward a super-state that may someday rival the United States.
Not wanting the convention to end in failure, Mr. Giscard d'Estaing proposed the panel take up that issue in July, when it is set to complete the final third part of the charter.
The Convention, which include representatives of E.U. Governments and institutions as well as national Parliaments, began its work in February 2002.
The E.U.'s founding Treaty of Rome of 1957 has been amended several times but always by E.U. Governments and amid complaints they operated far from the European citizenry.
Once approved by E.U. leaders, the Constitution will have to be ratified by all members to become valid. Some countries, such as Spain, Ireland and Denmark, have already promised to submit it to voters in a referendum. AP
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