EU chief urges France to 'triumph over fear'

21st April 2005, Comments 0 comments

GENEVA, April 20 (AFP) - European Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso on Wednesday urged France to stay at the forefront of EU integration by saying "yes" to the bloc's constitution and "no" to a "chauvinistic vision" of Europe.

GENEVA, April 20 (AFP) - European Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso on Wednesday urged France to stay at the forefront of EU integration by saying "yes" to the bloc's constitution and "no" to a "chauvinistic vision" of Europe.

Recent opinion polls in France have indicated that a majority of voters could reject the new constitution in the country's May 29 referendum.

"There is, in many of our countries, fear ... towards foreigners, towards globalisation," Barroso said during a speech and meeting with students at the University of Geneva.

Barroso queried which vision of Europe's future would triumph, that of "opening... and dialogue", or the "closed vision" permeated by "chauvinism, a certain populism, which currently exploits people's fears".

"The battle for Europe is the ability to say no to the mediocre, closed and chauvinistic vision," he told the students.

The European Commission president, who studied in the Swiss city in his youth, declined to enter into a debate about what would happen if the 'no' vote won on May 29.

"We hope that the outcome of that consultation is in conformity with the long tradition of France supporting the reinforcement of European institutions," Barroso told journalists earlier.

The constitution must be ratified in all 25 member states and a rejection by an EU member state like France would stop the process in its tracks.

France, one of the founders of European integration, will be only the second member state to hold a referendum on the constitution after Spain, which approved it on February 20 by a wide margin in a vote marked by low turnout.

© AFP

Subject: French News

0 Comments To This Article