"Respect of the other (EU states) and of democracy imply that the ratification process continues," President Jacques Chirac told a news conference with German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder after talks in Paris on Friday.

   

The leaders of the two countries that have been the traditional engine behind EU integration reiterated the stance they took at a meeting last Saturday.

   

Chirac said member states countries must unite in the "difficult times" following the French and Dutch rejection of the charter, designed to make decision-making easier in the enlarged, 25-nation Union.

   

"There's a problem of reconciling the Europeans with Europe. We have to give back confidence to the Europeans," Chirac said, referring to concerns over unemployment and EU bureaucracy.

   

Preliminary conclusions

 

Schroeder said the EU should wait until other countries have voted on the constitution before taking a decision on the future of the charter.

   

"It's too early to draw any preliminary conclusions. I think we have to first wait for the upcoming referendums in Denmark, Portugal and Luxembourg and other countries," he said.

   

"Then we will have to see how things add up and evaluate what should be done," Schroeder said, implying EU leaders should not take a decision on the future of the constitution until at least their end-year summit.

   

Luxembourg is set to hold a referendum in July, Denmark in September and Portugal in October.

   

Schroeder and Chirac were holding talks in Paris ahead of a June 16-17 summit of EU leaders.