The European Union has welcomed today’s ratification of the EU Constitution by Germany, the ninth country in the 25-member union to ratify the treaty so far.

The document was overwhelmingly approved by the upper house of the German Parliament, which clears the way for formal German ratification as a referendum is not being held on the issue there.

Germany’s approval comes on the final day of campaigning in France ahead of Sunday's referendum on the constitution and just days before Wednesday's vote on the issue in the Netherlands.

A spokesperson in Brussels said it sends a strong message to both countries, where polls are consistently showing opposition to the constitution.

The German Chancellor, Gerhard Schroeder, and the Spanish Prime Minister, Jose Zapatero, are travelling to France to throw their weight behind the Yes campaign.

Mr Schroeder will address a rally for the Yes campaign in Toulouse, while Mr Zapatero will appear at a socialist rally in Lille.

Socialists plan to hold rallies in favour of the document, and last night the President, Jacques Chirac, made a final television plea on behalf of ratification.

Yesterday, the Government published a bill providing for a referendum on the issue here, saying that a vote would take place even if the document was rejected in France.