‘Get out of EU,’ ex-French PM Rocard tells Britain

Former French Prime Minister Michel Rocard [Photo: Franceonu/ Caroline Fréchard]
Former French Prime Minister Michel Rocard [Franceonu/ Caroline Fréchard]

Former French Prime Minister and fervent EU advocate Michel Rocard accused Britain on Wednesday of having only joined the European Union to serve its commercial interests, telling it to leave before it caused further damage.

The comments by the 83-year-old Rocard came as Britain leads opposition to the bid of former Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker to run the European Commission, a post for which he has backing from a number of EU members including Germany.

"Between you and us, the continental Europeans, there is a disagreement that is turning ugly," Rocard wrote in a commentary published in Le Monde newspaper.

"Europe is dying from it," he said.

The Socialist Rocard has been a backer of closer European integration since the bloc's founding in the decade after World War Two and spent 15 years as a member of European parliament after leaving French politics in 1997.

Britain - which joined the then European Economic Community (EEC) in 1973 after France's General Charles de Gaulle had resisted a previous attempt to enter the bloc - has long been accused by some of the zone's founder members of seeking to slow down European political union.

British Prime Minister David Cameron, under pressure from anti-EU hardliners in his party, has agreed to hold a referendum in 2017 on whether his country remains a member of the EU. In the interim he has said his aim is to renegotiate the terms of Britain's membership.

Cameron has publicly opposed the nomination of Juncker, whose European People's Party won European Parliament elections in May, as president of the bloc's executive arm. France said before the election that the leading candidate of whichever party won the vote should be put forward for the job.

Britain has dismissed a report in Germany's Der Spiegel magazine that Cameron threatened at an EU summit last week to bring forward a referendum on British membership of the EU if Juncker became Commission president.

But Rocard accused Cameron of "pretending" to want to leave the European Union and of provoking disorder in order to serve the interest of Britain's banks.

"So leave, then, before you destroy everything,” Rocard wrote. "There was a time when being British was synonymous with elegance. Let us rebuild Europe. Regain your elegance and you will regain our esteem."

  • May 2015: UK to hold general election
  • 2017: EU membership referendum proposed by David Cameron


Iwantout's picture

“Michel Rocard accused Britain on Wednesday of having only joined the European Union to serve its commercial interests” Those who were old enough to vote thought this is precisely what they were agreeing to. It seems Edward Heath lied to you as well as us.

Mike Parr's picture

I thought I was voting for a process that would lead to a Federal Europe - it was one the cards then - for all to see.

Iwantout's picture

I am amongst the millions who have never had a chance to have any say on membership of the EU. Well done on knowing that membership of the EEC would lead to a federal Europe, although how you knew is a mystery to me when we it is a matter of historical record that the leaders of the time were saying -

“There will not be a blueprint for a Federal Europe" – Ted Heath 25/02/70 to House of Commons

"There is no danger of a single currency." – Ted Heath in leaflet to every house in 1975

“No important new policy can be decided in Brussels or anywhere else without the consent of a British Minister answerable to a British Government and British Parliament.” – Government EEC information leaflet to every household. No mention then of the QMV that then existed and has developed further.

In an age before the internet it was really easy for governments to restrict what people would know.

A Londoner's picture

@Michel Rocard
Far the greatest challenge the EU has faced and is facing is the single currency . How is the UK to blame for that?
@Mike Parr
I voted YES in the 1975 Referendum but I do not remember being aware of that. Mind you we in the UK have not been consistent. We are happy to take advantage of the Community Method and majority voting when it suits us.

GeorgeMc's picture

"We are happy to take advantage of the Community Method and majority voting when it suits us."

Like you, I had the opportunity to vote. Let's be honest though what we voted for, has over the years, changed beyond recognition. It is therefore a bit disingenuous to criticize the UK government for playing by the rules they find themselves bound by. I in no way blame the EU for this as it is all down to successive politicians and governments. Time to vote on this. The boil has to be lanced.