Italian president Giorgio Napolitano criticized proposals to reopen talks on the European Union’s constitutional charter because it had already been ratified by 18 of the bloc’s 27 states. ‘Starting new negotiations would mean opening a Pandora’s Box’, he argued when addressing the European Parliament in Strasbourg last week. ‘We’d have to start everything over from scratch, with uncertain results and an unpredictable timeframe’. The president’s comments came two days after Italian foreign minister Massimo D’Alema made a similar plea for the European constitution. He said the treaty was vital as it provides for a bill of rights, an EU president and foreign minister, and faster decision-making. ‘These aspects are crucial to the bloc’s internal functioning and its authority on the global stage’.The constitutional treaty, hammered out after months of negotiations, was temporarily shelved in 2005 after surprise rejections in French and Dutch referendums, which support a radically pared down document. French interior minister and presidential hopeful Nicolas Sarkozy has called for a ‘mini-treaty’ that would keep only limited EU reforms. This proposal would leave other EU policy decisions to be tackled in fresh negotiations after elections for the European Parliament in 2009.