22nd Mar 2018

Giscard regrets constitution sent to French people

It was a crucial mistake to send out the entire constitution to every French voter, the architect of the EU's first constitution Valéry Giscard d'Estaing has said in an interview.

In an interview with the New York Times, his first since the French rejection of the constitution two weeks ago, the former French president apportions most of the blame to president Jacques Chirac for failure in the referendum campaign.

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One crucial mistake was to send out the entire three-part, 448-article document to every French voter, said Mr Giscard.

Over the phone he had warned Mr Chirac already in March: "I said, 'Don't do it, don't do it'".

"It is not possible for anyone to understand the full text".

Mr Giscard d'Estaing also puts the blame on the present generation of political leaders.

Neither Mr Chirac nor other European leaders had a strategy for ratifying the constitution, he said.

"The present generation of leaders, whatever their strengths, never put Europe at the top of their agenda".

Mr Giscard d'Estaing was appointed by EU leaders at the Laeken summit in December 2001 to head a 102-member convention and draft a European Constitution.

Today Mr Giscard believes the constitution probably would have passed in France if the EU leaders had not left open the possibility of full EU membership for Turkey.

This week the bloc's leaders will meet in Brussels to decide the fate of the constitution, or "my document", as Mr Giscard puts it.

The ratification process should continue across Europe, the former president advises and predicts: "In the end, it will pass", he added. "There is no better solution".

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