Zapatero to help France's ailing 'Yes' campaign

27th May 2005, Comments 0 comments

27 May 2005, MADRID — Spanish prime minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero was heading to France in a bid to help salvage the floundering campaign in favour of the EU constitution.

27 May 2005

MADRID — Spanish prime minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero was heading to France in a bid to help salvage the floundering campaign in favour of the EU constitution.

With opinion polls showing French voters leaning towards rejecting the text in a referendum on Sunday, Zapatero was to speak at a meeting of France's Socialist party in the northern city of Lille.

Spain was the first country to hold a referendum on the EU constitution on 20 February and those voting backed it overwhelmingly, a sharp contrast to a more sceptical France.

If, as expected, Germany ratifies the constitution, it will follow in the footsteps of Austria, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Lithuania, Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain.

All 25 EU member states must approve the constitutional text before it can take effect.

Opinion polls in France on Friday showed the "No" camp had a clear lead with 48 hours to go before voting.

Le Parisien newspaper said 55 percent opposed the text with 45 percent backing it.

Political leaders in Germany have expressed alarm at the prospect of a "No" vote in France.

German chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and former chancellor Helmut Schmidt have made urgent appeals to the French to back the constitution.

On a visit to the French city of Nancy last week Schroeder warned France that it had a responsibility "not to leave the other Europeans in the lurch".

"Europe is stronger when it speaks with one voice. We need a strong Europe, an integrated Europe," he said.

German foreign minister Joschka Fischer meanwhile has hailed the constitution as a "fantastic project" which would allow Europe to face up to an increasingly globalised world.

The constitution aims to set out a new framework for an enlarged European Union, which last year opened its doors to 10 new members, eight of them former Communist countries.

[Copyright EFE with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news

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