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EU leaders struggle to reach deal on climate change, reform treaty
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European Union (EU) heads of state and government worked late into Thursday night, but failed to finalize key deals on climate change and the EU's reform treaty.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who chaired the discussions, left shortly before midnight without giving a press conference, something very rare for EU summits.

An EU official, who asked not to be named because he was not in a position to make announcements, said the leaders will have to continue their work on Friday to give finishing touches to the deals.

The leaders faced enormous pressure to approve a package of measures to implement their climate change and energy pledges.

They also needed to find a roadmap for the Lisbon Treaty, which was vetoed by Irish voters in a referendum in June.

According to a draft statement, the EU leaders will give concessions to Ireland so that the country can hold a second referendum next year.

The document said EU leaders will yield to a demand of Irish voters that the country have one representative on the European Commission. Other concerns of the Irish voters, including Ireland's military neutrality, its opposition to abortion, national rights on taxation, will also be dealt with, it said.

The Lisbon Treaty had planned to downsize the European Commission, the executive body of the EU, to a college of commissioners from only two thirds of the EU member states.

The leaders are expected to strike a deal on all the outstanding issues by June 2009 so that a second referendum can be held by the end of the term of the current commission, which falls on Oct. 31, 2009.

The EU leaders had hoped that ratification of the Lisbon Treaty could be completed by the end of 2008 so that it could enter into force on Jan. 1, 2009, in time for new elections of the European Parliament and the selection of a new European Commission.

The Lisbon Treaty, signed by EU heads of state and government in December 2007, is designed to reform EU institutions and streamline decision making in the ever enlarging union. The treaty requires ratification from all 27 EU member states to become effective.

The climate change package appeared to be more complicated, as the EU's biggest economy, Germany, still has reservations. Italy and Poland also have objections to provisions in the package, which was proposed by the European Commission in January.

(Xinhua News Agency December 12, 2008)

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