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The Parliament, especially the EPP-ED group, has been exerting strong pressure on the Council to begin the constitutional process quickly and provide concrete proof that the IGC will take place within the framework of a Convention based on the model of that outlined by the Charter of Fundamental Rights, but this has so far, had no impact on the Council (European Report No 2561). Hubert Vedrine insisted that they would not be dictated to and added that the Post-Nice debate should be broad and all embracing until a definitive framework becomes imperative, which could possibly be in terms of a Convention, because it was a tried and tested formula. British Foreign Secretary, Robin Cook, also supported the idea of bringing on board civil society but without digressing from the four subjects identified at Nice, which would implicitly rule out the constitutional project mooted by the Parliament and the Commission. Germany is in favour of a Committee of Wise Men to undertake preparations for the 2004 IGC. In a reference to the next Franco-German Summit in Strasbourg on 31 January, Joschka Fischer, the German Foreign Minister, declared that deepening the EU was crucial and Franco-German relations were necessary to achieve this. The President-in-Office of the Council, Anna Lindh's statement appeared cautious, as she recalled that the Laeken Summit and that of Gothenburg in June should go forward according to the forms necessary to open a debate which was broadly open on Europe's future and which would involve Member States, national and European institutions as well as Europe's citizens and civil society, particularly youth and students.The Parliament has been relying on the Council's determination to remain in charge of the projects on future institutional construction. At the Council of Presidents on 18 January, the President Nicole Fontaine uncovered her project, which had been talked about at the time of the EPP Congress, (see European Report No 2560) to develop "a permanent platform which was open both to civil...

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