Schroeder regrets French 'no' vote on EU treaty

30th May 2005, Comments 0 comments

30 May 2005, BERLIN - German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder expressed regret on Monday over the rejection by French voters of the European Union constitution, but he vowed the ratification process for the treaty must continue.

30 May 2005

BERLIN - German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder expressed regret on Monday over the rejection by French voters of the European Union constitution, but he vowed the ratification process for the treaty must continue.

"I very much regret the result of the French referendum, but the will of the voters must be respected," said Schroeder in a statement.

Schroeder said the vote was a setback for the European Union (EU) constitution but stressed, "it's not the end."

"The ratification process of the member states must continue," said Schroeder.

So far nine EU states have fully ratified the constitution treaty.

Meanwhile, the deputy leader of Germany's conservative opposition, Wolfgang Schaeuble, said on Monday the European Union was "in a crisis" following the rejection by French voters at the weekend of the bloc's proposed constitution.

"We now have a crisis and we must learn the right lessons from it because it is a chance for Europe to continue to make progress," said Schaeuble, deputy chairman of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU).

Schaeuble, in a Deutschlandfunk radio interview, said seeking to expand the EU too much after the negative French vote could endanger support for the 25-nation bloc.

The CDU and Merkel oppose allowing Turkey to join the EU and have raised doubts over planned accession for Romania and Bulgaria in 2007.

Schaeuble insisted that despite the French 'no' cooperation between Berlin and Paris would remain vital for the EU.

"The Franco-German motor remains necessary for Europe," he said.

Germany's business community also expressed its worries on Monday about the French voters' rejection of the European Union constitution.

Dieter Hundt, president of the German Employers Association BDA, called the French referendum vote a "serious blow" which could impair the workability of the expanded EU.

"This is an unmistakable warning signal which the politicians must take very seriously," Hundt told Deutsche Presse-Agentur.

Martin Wansleben, managing director of the German Chamber of Industry and Trade, called the rejection a "bitter setback for Europe".

It would be illusionary to believe now that everything can proceed as it has till now, he said. Leaders at the next EU summit in mid- June must now explain how the EU will find better procedures for decision-making.

Both the European Central Bank and German Bundesbank in Frankfurt declined to comment. The Bundesbank said the French vote was an EU matter, while an ECB spokesman said President Jean-Claude Trichet would comment at his forthcoming press conference on Thursday.

A top German economist said he foresaw no major damage to the economy from the French referendum outcome.

Joachim Scheide, an expert at the World Economic Research Institute in Kiel, said much depends on how Europeans handle the situation. It remained to be seen whether a process of drifting apart sets in, or whether Europe carries on as usual. Scheide said that he believed the latter is probable.

"We also have seen how the markets have scarcely reacted," he noted. If the euro were to plunge or share markets collapse and create a crisis of confidence it would require a new evaluation.

"But this is not the case, and I would not expect this happening as a result," Scheide said.

His remarks came as German shares were showing slight gains on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange. In quiet trading, the 30-share DAX was up 0.64 percent at over 4473 points by early afternoon, while the euro was down slightly, by 0.4 percent to USD 1.2486.

DPA

Subject: German news

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