Speaking to foreign journalists in Berlin, Mr Fischer suggested a
deal could be struck on the number of EU commissioners member states
send to Brussels. But Germany would be less flexible over voting
power in the Council of Ministers.
The two topics will be among the most contentious discussed at
the inter-governmental conference that opened in Rome at the
weekend. The 25 existing and future member states participating in
the talks hope to reach an agreement on the treaty by December.
"We are not saying nothing can be changed. If the compromise can
be improved, why not?" Mr Fischer said. "But this is different from
setting up an entirely new intergovernmental conference to work on
an entirely new draft."
The EU's founding members and the UK have argued for only minimal
changes to the draft treaty drawn up before the summer by Valéry
Giscard d'Estaing's Convention on the future of Europe. But Poland
and Spain have vigorously opposed voting rules they fear would
dilute their influence.
Under the Convention's proposal, decisions would require support
from at least half the member states, provided they represented 60
per cent of the population. Spain and Poland currently have almost
as many votes as Germany, which is twice as populous.
"The double majority reflects the twin nature of the EU as a
union of states and a union of people, it is the only sensible way
to go," Mr Fischer said. "The six largest member states represent 80
per cent of the EU's population and gross domestic product, against
20 per cent for the remaining 19 members."
However, he hinted Germany might accept changes to the provision
that would see member states give up their automatic right to
appoint a commissioner: "I can understand if some countries have
doubts about giving up their commissioner. We will have to talk
Government officials said Germany could agree to the provision
being scrapped, but it would insist on regaining the second
commissioner it, together with France, the UK, Italy and Spain, gave
up at the Nice summit of 2000.