EU Pieces Together New Pact

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands -- The European Union cobbled together Wednesday a new treaty, offering little to its increasingly disenchanted citizens and even less to those countries waiting to join the 15-member Western club.


Ending marathon talks in the early hours of Wednesday, the Dutch EU presidency admitted that the new text, updating the Maastricht Treaty also brokered by the Netherlands five years ago, was modest fare.


"In some areas, we did not achieve as much as we proposed, but we should be able to round off EMU [economic and monetary union] and move to enlargement," Dutch Prime Minister Wim Kok said at a closing news conference. "All in all, the substance of the treaty is very good."


The treaty, thrashed out over two days of intensive talks, following 15 months of preparatory negotiation, includes an employment chapter and deeper cooperation on asylum, immigration and crime-busting, but puts off changes to the balance of power in the 15-nation bloc until new members join early next century.


The leaders also failed to resolve a split over whether to integrate the Western European Union into the bloc.


"The treaty made progress, but not as much as we had hoped," Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi told reporters after the summit. "Concrete steps forward have been made, but at a slower pace than we would have wanted."


"The [draft] treaty has been scaled down ... but it is not a fudge," his Foreign Minister Lamberto Dini said.