( dpa ) - Both houses of the French Parliament began convening Monday in Versailles to debate changes to the country's Constitution necessary for a ratification of the new EU reform treaty.
Three-fifths of the 577 deputies from the National Assembly and 330 senators must vote in favour of the modifications for them to become valid.
If they are approved, both houses of the Parliament would then vote on ratififcation of the so-called Lisbon Treaty later in the week.
The National Assembly and the Senate already approved the modifications individually in January, and by margins large enough to suggest that Monday's vote is merely a formality.
However, according to surveys, a large majority of the French people would prefer a referendum on the treaty, as has been demanded by the opposition Socialists.
In May 2005, the French voted in a referendum to reject an earlier version of the Lisbon Treaty, setting the stage for a long period of uncertainty over reform of the Union's institutions.