Is Jacques losing sleep?
Right now he’s busy at work supporting his friends, Chirac urges EU to go soft on Iran’s N-curbs
French President Jacques Chirac has been pushing the EU to drop its refusal to consider letting Iran enrich uranium, despite US and European fears Iran could use enrichment technology for weapons, EU diplomats say.
Mr Chirac has “placed himself in the line of fire”, the daily adds, and wonders what lies in store for him should the No vote carry the day. “Should he resign?,” it asks.
In fact, Liberation believes, Mr Chirac should not wait until after the vote.
“A single word” from Jacques Chirac this evening “will ensure a referendum victory for the Yes camp,” the paper says.
All he has to do is to answer Yes himself if asked whether he will resign if the French accept the constitution, it suggests, adding that left-wing voters would be won over immediately.
“He would earn himself a place in the history books… [as] the man who sacrificed himself to make Europe triumph”.
And there could be bad news for Mr Chirac from his old ally Germany, where Die Welt reports that some opposition-controlled states may stall approval of the constitution in the upper house of parliament it they are not given a bigger say on European issues.
Me thinks a Chirac resignation’s not likely at all. He could end up in the clink. Instead of a debate on the EU, Jacques will be having a TV meeting with carefully-picked teens who’ll ask questions. Even state-run France2 news wasn’t too excited about that idea. The stakes are high:
The French referendum has been grandly described as a choice between the past and the future. But the real choice is exactly opposite to the one articulated by campaigners on both sides. The alternatives offered to the people of France are not between the idealistic European multiculturalism of the 21st century and the xenophobic nationalism of the 19th. Rather they face a choice between two approaches: on one hand the liberal ideology of free markets and small governments that seems to be sweeping the world after its relaunch in Britain and America in the 1980s. The alternative is the 1970s belief that a centralised, protectionist and bureaucratically managed state could gradually be extended to the whole of Europe, preserving and enhancing the traditions of Gaullism in its glory days, when Chirac and Giscard were rising to power.
As Anatole Kaletsky explains Rejection of the EU constitution would also be a rejection of the clapped-out ideas of Europe’s elites
This brings me to the second and more profound implication of a French “no”. The collapse of the constitution would not just end Europe’s premature journey to single statehood. It would also dispel the pernicious illusion of French or European “exceptionalism” which this journey inspired: the idea that France or Europe has a “model” of social development which somehow exempts it from the laws of capitalist economics that apply to the rest of the world. Europe can make different choices on social services and welfare from America, but these choices can be supported only by a growing economy. The laws of the market — that people respond to incentives, that overvalued currencies destroy employment, that bureaucracy stifles enterprise — cannot be repealed by European idealism or political will.
A French “no” will force the people of Europe and the governing elites to face the fact that their living standards, cultures and influence in the world can be preserved only by improving economic performance, not by integrating, harmonising, enlarging or writing constitutions. Denied the illusions of “exceptionalism” and “ever-closer union”, Europe may have to think seriously about economic reform.
A reform it badly needs. Richard North of EU Referendum blog is skeptical,
Hell, I wish I could be such an optimist – and get paid for it. But this grouch thinks differently. If there was any chance of EU politicians facing up to reality, they would not have attempted to foist the constitution on us in the first place. Collectively, they have been living in their own ‘bubble’ for over fifty years, and a little thing like a rejection is not going to change it.
We have been here before. The last great attempt to foist a constitution on ‘Europe’, in the form of the European Political Community, failed in 1954, when the French parliament refused to ratify it. Did that stop the integrationalists then? Not in the least – three years later they were signing the Treaty of Rome/
In the meantime, this morning’s BBCA news broadcast showed a Dutch member of the EU parliament showing how wasteful it is for the Parliament to move in and out of Strasbourg once a month and asks that it meet only in Brussels, a motion certain to displease France.