Austria takes charge of European Union

Jan. 1, 2006 at 5:55 PM

VIENNA, Jan. 1 (UPI) -- Austria is taking over presidency of the European Union, facing such pressing issues as constitution, trade and admission of new members.

President Heinz Fischer said his six-month term will be one of reflection after voters in France and the Netherlands rejected an EU constitution, the BBC reports.

Fischer said a discussion over the constitution's terms will take place but no constitution will be put in place.

Romania, Bulgaria and Turkey are all applying for membership, with Turkey's bid remaining controversial.

A plan to ease trade restrictions between EU members is also expected to test Fischer's diplomatic skills. Britain is spearheading the trade change while others, including France, vehemently oppose it.

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