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.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

"[...] 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".


Jubilant Greens in party mood after first EP projection

A party like atmosphere has seized the Greens as a packed room of people discuss around food and drinks. Elsewhere, the centre-right EPP appear sombre, as they huddle around their computers behind closed doors.

2019 European election results

With 427 million possible voters, across 28 EU countries, electing 751 MEPs, it's the second-biggest democratic vote in the world. The results will come thick and fast - follow them here, via the European Parliament's official results site.

News in Brief

  1. Timmermans calls for 'progressive alliance'
  2. Catalonia's Puigdemont wins MEP seat
  3. Weber opens door to alliance with greens and liberals
  4. Tsipras calls snap Greek election after EP defeat
  5. Polish ruling PiS takes lion's share of EU vote
  6. Romanian voters punish ruling PSD party
  7. First official EP projection: EPP remain top, Greens fourth
  8. UK forecast puts Brexit Party on top, with 24 seats

Key details on how Europeans will vote

It's one of the biggest democratic exercises in the world with over 400 million eligible voters. National rules apply, and national parties run, but the stakes are at European level.


All about the European Parliament elections 2019

EUobserver's new magazine is meant to help readers prepare for the European Parliament elections, no matter their level of knowledge. You can download and read the entire magazine now.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  3. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  4. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  5. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  6. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  11. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  12. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year

Latest News

  1. Populists' EU breakthrough fails, greens and liberals gain
  2. Jubilant Greens in party mood after first EP projection
  3. 2019 European election results
  4. Thunberg: We can still fix climate, but must start today
  5. Turnout up in Slovakia, with pro-EU liberals scoring high
  6. Belgium votes in hybrid EU-national election
  7. Irish greens take Dublin in second EU exit poll
  8. EU election results to trigger top jobs scramble This WEEK

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us