Saturday

13th Apr 2024

France's Royal wants new EU constitution referendum

Segolene Royal, the socialist candidate to become France's next president, has said she is in favour of holding a new referendum on a revised EU constitution in 2009, proposing to make the treaty more attractive to the French by attaching a social declaration.

"I want the French people to be consulted once again in a referendum in 2009," Ms Royal said after meeting Luxembourg prime minister Jean-Claude Juncker on Wednesday (17 January), according to press reports.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Get the EU news that really matters

Instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

"My idea is that this referendum would take place at the same time as the European elections," she indicated.

Wednesday's remarks, made ahead of the French presidential elections with first and second rounds in April and May, distance Ms Royal from her main centre-right rival for the presidency, Nicolas Sarkozy.

Mr Sarkozy has called for a simplified mini-treaty for the EU containing key elements of the constitution, which could be ratified by the French parliament without a referendum.

By contrast, Ms Royal said a new version of the text should add a fresh social declaration on workers' rights and public services, in order to avoid a repetition of the 2005 referendum when almost 55 percent of French voters rejected the charter.

"I do not want the French to punish the European countries which have already expressed themselves [on the constitution]. What I wish is that there is a social aspect and that the rights of workers are taken into consideration in Europe," she said.

Without being specific about the content of the proposed declaration, she said that "with this, I think that the French people will regain confidence and I will be able to bring them along, those who voted yes and those who voted no."

"What they want is not less Europe, but a Europe which will better protect social rights, fundamental freedoms and progress for all."

Luxembourg's Jean-Claude Juncker said he backed the idea of attaching a social declaration to the EU constitution, explaining that it could contain principles like a minimum wage - the level of which would be up to national governments - and minimum lay-off standards.

The idea of a social declaration is likely to be viewed with scepticism by free market-oriented states like the UK, the Czech Republic and Poland which have put ratification of the constitution on ice.

Risky

But it is likely to be backed by German chancellor Angela Merkel who last year proposed to add a social declaration to the constitutional treaty herself, vowing to keep most of the charter's existing text unchanged.

Ms Merkel is however likely to be less happy by Ms Royal's push for a second French referendum, which carries the risk of a second French "no" and which complicates Germany's main EU presidency goal of reaching a quick deal on a revised constitution.

Ms Royal admitted that a new referendum is risky, saying "I am prepared to take political risks in this matter...and explain to the French that if Europe wants to stand on its feet, we have the task of giving it the institutional means to function."

UK-EU deal on Gibraltar only 'weeks away'

EU and UK negotiators said that a new post-Brexit settlement for Gibraltar was just weeks away from completion following four-way talks in Brussels on Friday (12 April).

Ukraine's farmers slam EU import controls on food products

The paradoxical move to tighten EU import controls on agricultural goods from Ukraine, despite the EU's vocal support for Kyiv, has sparked criticism from Ukrainian farmers. Overall, it is estimated the new measures could cost the Ukrainian economy €330m.

Opinion

Calling time on Amazon's monopolism and exploitation

As Amazon's founder Jeff Bezos just reclaimed the title of the richest person on Earth, its workers cannot even take a bathroom break under the pressure of meeting inhumane performance targets.

Opinion

The Bolsonaro-Orbán far-right nexus

Defeated far-right Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro has given various reasons for sheltering at the Hungarian embassy in Brasilia — none of them make sense.

Latest News

  1. UK-EU deal on Gibraltar only 'weeks away'
  2. Belgium declares war on MEPs who took Russian 'cash'
  3. Brussels Dispatches: Foreign interference in the spotlight
  4. Calling time on Amazon's monopolism and exploitation
  5. Resist backlash on deforestation law, green groups tell EU
  6. China's high-quality development brings opportunities to the world
  7. Ukraine tops aid list again, but EU spending slumps
  8. Who did Russia pay? MEPs urge spies to give names

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersJoin the Nordic Food Systems Takeover at COP28
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersHow women and men are affected differently by climate policy
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersArtist Jessie Kleemann at Nordic pavilion during UN climate summit COP28
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP28: Gathering Nordic and global experts to put food and health on the agenda
  5. Friedrich Naumann FoundationPoems of Liberty – Call for Submission “Human Rights in Inhume War”: 250€ honorary fee for selected poems
  6. World BankWorld Bank report: How to create a future where the rewards of technology benefit all levels of society?

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Georgia Ministry of Foreign AffairsThis autumn Europalia arts festival is all about GEORGIA!
  2. UNOPSFostering health system resilience in fragile and conflict-affected countries
  3. European Citizen's InitiativeThe European Commission launches the ‘ImagineEU’ competition for secondary school students in the EU.
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region is stepping up its efforts to reduce food waste
  5. UNOPSUNOPS begins works under EU-funded project to repair schools in Ukraine
  6. Georgia Ministry of Foreign AffairsGeorgia effectively prevents sanctions evasion against Russia – confirm EU, UK, USA

Join EUobserver

EU news that matters

Join us