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Italy's Senate approves EU treaty

23 July 2008, 22:29 CET

(ROME) - Italy's Senate on Thursday unanimously approved the European Union's troubled reform treaty, whose future was plunged into doubt when Irish voters rejected it last month.

The so-called Lisbon treaty must now pass to the lower house of parliament for a final vote next week.

It was rejected by Irish voters in a referendum last month, throwing into turmoil the 27-nation bloc's plans to streamline its decision-making.

Parliaments in a majority of the member nations have ratified it.

Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini expressed his "deep satisfaction" with the Senate result, the ANSA news agency reported.

"This treaty is not the solution to the EU's problems but it will allow the European Union to make decisions more quickly," Frattini was quoted as saying.

"The challenge will begin the day the Lisbon Treaty comes into force."

The anti-EU Northern League party, allied to Italy's centre-right Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, had demanded that Italy too hold a referendum on the treaty but eventually voted for it in the Senate.

The treaty remains in limbo, however, after the Irish rejection.

EU leaders hope to find a solution to the crisis at an EU summit in October.

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