Monday

27th May 2019

Europe can trust in France, says Raffarin

  • Jean-Pierre Raffarin - "I am not saying that the French have built Europe, but Europe has always attracted French talent" (Photo: European Commission)

In a letter published in ten European newspapers, French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin has said that Europe can trust in the support of France.

"For France, Europe is first and foremost a state of mind, a community of souls whose aim, since the Enlightenment, has been the quest for happiness and justice", says the version in the Financial Times.

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"[...] We are confidently supporting enlargement of the EU. We have accepted tough compromises to ensure its success".

On the Constitution, where talks have been stalled since mid-December, Mr Raffarin writes that Europe needs a Constitution "to guarantee its efficiency and durability" but adds that "it need not be finalised in weeks".

Two-speed Europe

Once again the issue of a two-speed Europe involving Germany and France is raised. If agreement on the Constitution does not come about "the countries that aspire to this constitution will act together to convince the others".

"The pioneer groups will build the future, while respecting the acquis communautaire. The genuinely substantive German-French relationship can act as a beacon for those wishing to strengthen co-operation: with the UK in defence, with Poland in promoting the "Weimar Triangle", and with the eurogroup in finding a better way to link stability and growth within the Pact".

Euro rules

The French Prime Minister also spares a word for the stability pact - the rules which underpin the euro - which have pitted both France and Germany against the European Commission and which has resulted in a decision by the latter to take member states to court on the issue.

"We must improve the pact, which is still too insensitive to economic cycles. We need to place budget discipline in a more ambitious context. I am keen to see a remodelled pact that takes greater account of reforms that are improving the long-term viability of our public finances".

Mr Raffarin's appeal to Europe's trust in France comes as the relationship between the Commission and member states reached a new low this week in the spat over the euro pact.

Similarly, France was suspected by several EU diplomats as being one of the main reasons why talks on the Constitution failed last month - as it was not ready to commit itself to the text.

Moreover, Mr Raffarin's words on enlargement are likely to have particular resonance in the new member states. French President Jacques Chirac's outburst last year that candidate countries had missed a good opportunity to "shut up" when they sided with the US over Iraq, have not been quickly forgotten.

Mr Raffarin's letter was published in the Financial Times (UK), the Süddeutsche (Germany), El Pais (Spain), Corriere della Sera (Italy), Le Soir (Belgium), Publico (Portugal), and four other newspapers in Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary.

French PM calls for speedy progress on Constitution

The French prime minister, Jean-Pierre Raffarin, said yesterday that Europe is running out of time to find a deal on the Constitution and urged leaders to "progress very quickly in 2004".

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