Skip to comments.Chirac, Schroeder, Kwasniewski defend EU constitution
Posted on 05/20/2005 3:14:56 PM PDT by jb6
NANCY, France (AFP) - The leaders of France, Germany and Poland formed a united front in defense of the EU constitution, just 10 days before the French vote on the treaty in a crucial referendum.
French President Jacques Chirac, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski -- meeting in Nancy in eastern France -- also demanded that the British rebate on the EU budget be reviewed.
But France's May 29 referendum on the EU constitution was the focus of the day, and Chirac, who has staked his personal prestige on approval of the treaty, said all three were "strongly committed" to seeing it ratified.
With Schroeder and Kwasniewski by his side, he inaugurated Nancy's newly renovated 18th century Place Stanislas by urging French voters to say "yes" to a "fair and powerful Europe", and not to retreat within national borders.
"Europe is stronger when it speaks with one voice. We need a strong Europe, an integrated Europe," Schroeder told a joint press conference, warning that France had the responsibility "not to leave the other Europeans in the lurch".
Meanwhile, Kwasniewski -- whose country joined the European Union in May last year -- tried to ease French fears of tough competition from the low-cost economies to the east, saying Polish workers were not a threat to French jobs.
Aides to Chirac said they hoped his summit with Schroeder and Kwasniewski -- the first tripartite talks since Poland joined the bloc -- would send a strong message to undecided voters about the strength of a united Europe.
With just 10 days to go before the key referendum, the possibility of a French "non" to the landmark charter has authorities in the other 24 EU member states worried.
Recent opinion polls show opponents of the constitution with a slight lead in France, but when the margin of error and the number of undecided voters are taken into account, the race is a virtual dead heat.
The constitution must be ratified by all 25 member states, and a rejection by so important a country as France would leave the treaty dead in its tracks.
The European Union's budget for 2007-2013, now in tough negotiations, also figured prominently on the agenda for the talks in Nancy, with the three leaders calling for Britain's EU budget rebate to be reconsidered.
Chirac said the trio had agreed on the need for "fairer financing of the European budget" and to "demand rediscussion and readjustment of the British cheque".
Since 1984 Britain has benefited from a substantial special annual payment from the European Union under an arrangement reached with then British prime minister Margaret Thatcher.
The French leader also hit out at the massive increase in Chinese textile exports to the European Union, urging Brussels to do more to protect European jobs -- and emphasizing that the constitution would help secure those jobs.
"The considerable increase in Chinese textile exports to our countries calls into question the jobs of thousands of workers. We cannot accept this without doing anything," the French leader told reporters.
Chirac and Schroeder also dismissed any possibility of renegotiating the EU constitution, which aims to simplify decision-making in the expanded bloc.
"There will obviously be no renegotiation," the French president said, while Schroeder called the concept of a so-called "plan B" a "pure illusion".
Already feeding on public dissatisfaction with France's stagnant economy and government reforms, the "no" camp also gained a boost in the past week with renewed talk of a possible "plan B" should the French reject the treaty.
This is the greatest power grab in the history of Europe. The old titled aristocracy did not have this much power, and it is all will be completely out of the hands of the voter.
And all without one bullet being fired.
The EU, as a free trade area - Yes,
The EU, as a new European superstate - No!
It seems to me that Kwasniewski missed a good opportunity to shut up.
It doesnt really matter whether the constitution is accepted or not. Conservatives in Europe say that the constitution is too socialistic and trade-unionists in France say it is too pro--capitalistic. I live in one of the countries of "new Europe", and think that it is much more important that there IS a European Union than what kind of union it is. Besides, Constitution will be rejected by Brits, (you can bet any amount of money on that).
A free trade zone yes, but an EU? It is doomed for failure, but not before a great tragedy unfolds.
Just new lords and new slaves in Europe!
The EU is now not much more than a free-trade zone (except for Common Agricultural Policy, which will be dropped very soon I hope). You shouldnt confuse a European union with such a union as the US. It is stiil a confederation of sovereign states, and really cannot be anything else.
Why is it important that there is a union? Two reasons:
1. As a counterbalance for Russia (but this is important only for "new europeans")
2. So that the european nations don't start slaughtering one another as in the past. EU is a straightjacket for the nations of europe - in the sense they have to be prevented from making harm to themselves.)
"It is doomed for failure, but not before a great tragedy unfolds."
What sort of tragedy? Can there be a bigger tragedy than WWII, communism and nazism? And EU was not responsible for that.
Well he's a communist and he was right at home in the EU.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.