Chirac wants 2006 to be 'new departure' for EU

10th January 2006, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Jan 10, 2006 (AFP) - President Jacques Chirac of France said Tuesday that 2006 should mark a "new departure" for the EU after last year's rejections in France and the Netherlands of the bloc's proposed constitution.

PARIS, Jan 10, 2006 (AFP) -  President Jacques Chirac of France said Tuesday that 2006 should mark a "new departure" for the EU after last year's rejections in France and the Netherlands of the bloc's proposed constitution.

"I hope 2006 will be a new departure for the EU," he said in a televised New Year's message to Paris-based ambassadors.

Chirac said that last month's agreement on an EU budget for 2007 to 2013 showed that the "Union has taken hold once more of what was always the strength of the European spirit: the spirit of togetherness, of unity and confidence."

"(The EU) has everything in position to rediscover its capacity for commitment and initiative in the service of growth and employment. It is this capacity for progress and action which our fellow citizens want most from Europe," he said.

Last May, French voters delivered a first stinging blow to the constitution by rejecting it in a referendum, followed by the Netherlands.

The twin rebuff effectively killed off the text in its present form, while Chirac, who had campaigned strongly in favour of the referendum, responded by appointing a new prime minister.

Last month, the British EU presidency averted a new crisis by hammering out a last-minute accord on the bloc's next seven-year budget, mainly by giving up some of its own rebate after failing to persuade Chirac to accept a reduction in lucrative EU farm subsidies which benefit France the most.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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