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Spain wants maximum power in eu says zapatero

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Spain wants "maximum power" in EU, says Zapatero

MADRID, March 18 (Reuters) - Spain's next prime minister said on Thursday he would fight for as much power as possible for Madrid in a European Union constitution, yet was optimistic of a breakthrough over voting rights.

"I'm going to defend maximum possible power for Spain in the European Union," Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero said in an interview with Spanish television. "My primary goal is that we have a European constitution as soon as possible."

Talks on a constitution for an enlarged EU of 25 members broke down in December when Spain, with Poland, blocked the draft because it would reduce their voting rights.

Spain's incumbent Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar wanted to keep the rules of the 2000 Nice treaty, in which Spain and Poland have almost the same voting rights as the EU's largest states, despite having much smaller populations.

The draft proposes a double majority system, in which decisions made by at least half the member states, and representing at least 60 percent of the bloc's population, would pass.

Zapatero's surprise election Sunday, in the wake of Madrid's bomb attacks, has improved the outlook for an end to a deadlock.

Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern, holder of the EU's rotating six-month presidency until June, said leaders of the bloc might be able to push the file forward when they hold formal talks next week.

"There is no change in the Spanish position as of now, but we're still hoping that maybe we will make some progress next week," he told Reuters in the Canadian capital Ottawa.

Copyright Reuters

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