The parliament of Latvia ratified the proposed European Union constitution Thursday, pressing ahead with the dream of a European superpower despite back-to-back rejections of the document by voters in the Netherlands and France.
Political leaders who favor adoption are casting about for a new strategy. German Chancellor Gerhardt Schroeder traveled to Luxembourg to meet with his counterpart, Jean-Claude Juncker, and prepare for an E.U. summit June 16-17 in Brussels.
For now, the ratification process is continuing in countries that have not acted on the constitution. However, analysts said that the French and Dutch results would probably prompt some countries, notably Britain, to scrap plans for a popular vote and leave the question to their parliaments.
To be adopted, the constitution must be approved by all 25 countries in the bloc, which began 53 years ago as a six-member economic grouping. Latvia was the tenth country to approve the document.
In Brussels, a spokeswoman for the E.U.'s executive arm, the European Commission, said that the upcoming summit would consider the possibility of drafting a new constitution. "I am sure that is something that will be debated that week," Francoise Le Bail said.
In a government reshuffle prompted by French voters' rejection of the constitution Sunday, President Jacques Chirac on Thursday dismissed Foreign Minister Michel Barnier and replaced him with Philippe Douste-Blazy, a 52-year-old former health minister who is loyal to Chirac but a novice in international affairs.
The draft constitution was meant to give Europe some of the trappings of statehood -- a president, a diplomatic corps and Beethoven's "Ode to Joy" as a pan-Europe anthem. It was also devised to allow the organs of the E.U. bureaucracy to function more smoothly following expansion last year by 10 members, eliminating the need for unanimity on many issues.
Many people who voted against the charter in France and the Netherlands cited fear that their nations would be submerged in a European super-state at the price of their heritage and traditions.
Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende told a sullen Dutch parliament, where more than 85 percent of the 150 members had backed the constitution, that the E.U. needed to reconnect with the people. "More attention for the citizens, fewer big words, and no more steps forward until there is support for them," he said.