Former French PM Fabius imposes conditions for supporting EU Constitution

Aspiring president Laurent Fabius has
warned he will call for a ‘no’ vote during the French
referendum on the EU Constitution if Chirac and EU leaders
do not agree on reforms to make Europe more social.

French Socialist heavyweight, Laurent Fabius, said he
would only support the EU constitution if President
Jacques Chirac pushed through a series of modifications
to compensate for the constitution’s “grave
shortcomings.” Speaking on prime time television on 9
September, Laurent Fabius said: “I am fixing one
condition for the president: I want a new employment
policy put in place that guards against jobs going
abroad,” adding that otherwise he “will say
no.” 

He said Chirac should convince EU partners on four
points: 

  • to reform the EU’s Stability and Growth Pact which
    holds down levels of public spending and
    borrowing 
  • to increase EU budget for research, training and
    investment 
  • to ensure tax harmonisation across the 25 members
    to stop delocalisation across the EU 
  • to adopt a directive protecting public
    services. 

If Chirac does decide to push for such reforms, he
will face an uphill task to convince the 24 EU Member
States. Fabius rivals in the French socialist party are
accusing him of putting at risk a treaty that aims to
streamline the newly enlarged European Union for his own
political benefit. Throwing his weight behind the party’s
‘no’ camp allows him to differentiate himself from other
potential socialist candidates for the 2007 presidential
election and turn the party’s internal vote in November
on where they stand on the constitution into an effective
leadership contest. 

The EU Constitution must be formally adopted by the 25
EU Member States, either by a referendum or a
parliamentary vote, before it can come into force.
France’s position is crucial, because while EU officials
say the process could survive if one or two smaller
countries reject the text, rejection by a big Member
State would lead the Union into uncharted
territory. 

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