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This sudden turnaround came about because of contacts between Mr Amato on January 27 with Christoph Z?pel, Secretary of State in the German Foreign Ministry. Mr Amato explained that as a member of the opposition he could not represent the Government of his successor. Moreover, given Mr Berlusconi's determination over this matter, he would have no choice but to resign as Convention Vice-President if other EU leaders refused to give in to the Italian Premier's demands. "Everyone agrees with this formula independently of terms of the Laeken agreement", the Council President Josep Pique explained, saying that his colleagues had taken account of the Italian government's position in relation to Mr Amato. German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer, while deploring the twisting of promises made at the Laeken Summit fell in line with the compromise worked out by the Spanish Presidency as did his Swedish and Dutch colleagues, Anna Lindh and Jozias van Aartsen. The Belgian Foreign Minister Louis Michel said he was interested in representing Belgium. The UK confirmed that European Affairs Minister, Peter Hain, would be its representative in the Convention.Ministers also accepted a proposal from the Secretariat-General of the Council concerning the Convention's budget which will total Euro 10.51 million in 2002. The envelope for expenses for the day-to-day running of the Convention will be financed to the tune of Euro 2.6 million by the Commission, one million by the Parliament and Euro 400,000 by the Council under Section Five (Administration) of the EU's 2002 Budget.Parliament's preparations.In this context European Parliament delegates to the Convention and their substitutes met on January 29 to consider future action. Nordic and Dutch MEPs regretted the fallout from the dispute over the treatment of the Convention's President Valery Giscard d'Estaing (see European Report 2653 for further details). Others questioned the likely influence of Member States' representatives, often European Affairs Ministers, on their national parliamentary colleagues. All insisted on the importance of rapidly clarifying the role of the plenary with regard to the Presidium, in order to ensure that the latter does not exercise a monopoly over the Convention's work and decisions.The Constitutional Affairs Committee has begun its examination of the draft report by Alain Lamassoure (EPP, France) on the division of responsibilities. It identifies exclusive powers which it argues...

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