( Reuters ) - European Union leaders headed for a showdown on Thursday over the latest bid to overhaul the bloc's creaking institutions, but chances of agreement may be rising after chief critic Poland softened its tone.
British Prime Minister Tony Blair, attending his last EU summit, said prospects for a deal to launch negotiations on a reform treaty were just "touch and go," while Polish Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski put the odds at 50-50.
Objections by London and Warsaw could yet scupper German Chancellor Angela Merkel's drive to replace the defunct EU constitution and end years of wrangling over the division of power between Brussels and member states, and between big and small nations.
Failure to agree at a summit likely to run into Saturday would be a huge setback for the enlarged 27-nation bloc, two years after French and Dutch voters rejected the constitution, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso has warned.
It might prompt a smaller group of member states to press ahead with closer integration, leaving others behind.
Poland has insisted on changing the EU's voting system, which it says favors big countries, especially Germany, at its expense. But nearly all the other EU countries favor keeping the decision-making formula that was spelt out in a constitution draft rejected by French and Dutch voters in 2005.
Kaczynski struck a more conciliatory tone in remarks to Rzeczpospolita daily on Thursday, saying: "We have made some progress although the situation is not yet fully satisfying.
"Nevertheless, I think there is a chance that our demands are understood. If not we will have to draw conclusions."