France and the Referendum on the EU Constitution

DISCLAIMER: All opinions in this column reflect the views of the author(s), not of EURACTIV Media network.

This policy brief by Markus Wagner considers the positions of the main actors in the French referendum campaign and examines how the political debate there contrasts with the discussion surrounding the EU Constitution in the UK.

Introduction (taken word for word from the European Policy Brief)

On 4 March, President Jacques Chirac announced that France will hold its referendum on the European Constitution on 29 May 2005. Chirac’s statement came less than two weeks after the Spanish people had voted overwhelmingly in favour of the Constitution, albeit with a low turnout. Just a few days before the announcement of the French date, the Dutch government had decided to hold its consultative referendum on 1 June. Referendum season is now well and truly open, and the campaigns running up to the votes in France and the Netherlands will be hard-fought and controversial. 

Never before has a European treaty been subject to referendums in so many countries. A total of ten countries are currently planning to organise a vote on the issue, a surprising event considering that previously only three countries had held referendums on EU Treaties: Ireland, Denmark and France. Nevertheless, even though each country will have to decide on the same issue – whether or not to ratify the European Constitution – the content of each campaign will differ greatly according to national priorities and concerns. This Policy Brief considers in detail the positions of the main actors in the French campaign and examines how the political debate there contrasts with the discussion surrounding the Constitution in the UK. 

This European Policy Brief  by Markus Wagner can be accessed through the Federal Trust website.

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