The biggest event by far this week will be the French referendum on the Constitution
on Sunday. With the polls putting the 'no' camp in the lead, speculation has
mounted about what it will mean if this founding member of the EU rejects the
treaty. There is talk of renegotiations of the document, and questions about
whether other member states will even continue with the ratification process.

In a bid to help swing French voters towards a 'yes' the German upper house
(Bundesrat) is to vote on the constitution just two days before and is expected
to pass it with a comfortable majority.

EU budget

Among the most significant
of meetings taking place will be a meeting of foreign and defence ministers
at the beginning of the week to discuss future financing of the EU, defence
issues, development and external relations. The main sticking points continue
to centre on the overall ceiling for the budget plus own resource issues
such as the British rebate.

Motion of censure

The European Parliament meanwhile
will
have a mini session in Brussels, with the motion of censure against
commission president Jose Manuel Barroso by a group of MEPs likely to attract
much
of the media attention. The deputies are taking Mr Barroso to task for
alleged conflict of interests following his cruise holiday with a Greek shipping
baron. However, the leaders of the biggest groups in the parliament have
already
dismissed
the motion.

Another event will be a vote in the civil liberties committee
on Thursday on an initiative by Sweden, Ireland and the UK on data
retention. The rapporteur's very critical report of the proposal is likely
to
be
approved by the committee, and is to be voted on in plenary in June.

Elsewhere
in
the parliament, there will be a debate on the services directive on
Tuesday in
the internal market committee while on Thursday there will be a
public hearing on EU-US trade relations.

During the weekly Commission meeting
on Wednesday, the main topics of discussion will be a communication on guidelines
for
sustainable
development as well as new commission proposals on how national
statistical data can be reliably gathered in member states. This move follows
reports
earlier
this year that Italy had under-reported the real state of its accounts.

Meanwhile,
on Monday and Tuesday education and culture ministers will gather
in Brussels for a council.

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