The prime ministers of Spain and Italy on Tuesday agreed to join efforts to relaunch the stalled European Union (EU) constitution to further push the bloc's integration process forward.
At a bilateral meeting held on the Spanish Mediterranean island of Ibiza, Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero called the two countries to support the holder of the current EU presidency Germany's efforts to break a stalemate on the draft charter.
Germany, which took up the EU presidency early this year, has repeatedly said that it wants to see the charter -- in some form or the other -- adopted by 2009, but has given no further indication as to how that might be achieved.
Calling Italy a "brother" country and a "partner in the European Union," Zapatero told his Italian counterpart Romano Prodi that Spain supports bids to find ways to allow the nations that have not ratified the constitution to reconsider the issue.
Our goal is to maintain the essential idea of achieving a more united and efficient Europe with new ways of working, he said.
The EU draft constitution provides for a bill of rights, and an EU president and foreign minister to replace the current system of a rotating leadership.
So far, the charter has been ratified by 18 states among the now 27-member bloc, but suffered stunning defeats in Dutch and French referendums in 2005.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel recently pledged to renew negotiations over the constitution, but said it would be an uphill battle to rally 27 nations around a new charter unless they all cooperate.
The two leaders also promised to keep their troops in Afghanistan, where Italy has a 2,000-soldier contingent and Spain has 690 troops.
Prodi, however, voiced his concern that the troops do not seem to have a political exit strategy and called for regional players to be involved, not just the United States and the European Union.