EU constitution needs 'second chance': Giscard

23rd May 2006, Comments 0 comments

LONDON, May 23, 2006 (AFP) - France should give the European Union constitutional treaty a "second chance" after its voters rejected it last year, former French president Valéry Giscard d'Estaing said in an interview published Tuesday.

LONDON, May 23, 2006 (AFP) - France should give the European Union constitutional treaty a "second chance" after its voters rejected it last year, former French president Valéry Giscard d'Estaing said in an interview published Tuesday.

Giscard told the Financial Times that the treaty, whose drafting he oversaw as president of the European Convention, should be reconsidered after next year's presidential elections in France.

"I wish that we will have a new chance, a second chance, for the constitutional project," following its rejection in a referendum in May last year, said Giscard, 80.

"There are 16 out of 25 countries that have ratified the European constitution. That's to say there's a qualified majority. There is an agreed text," he told the British daily.

"The concern now is the modalities of adopting it," said Giscard, leaving open the possibility of another referendum or a vote in parliament.

Giscard said voters rejected the constitution — which Brussels argues is needed to prevent decision-making gridlock in the expanding bloc — because of the French government's unpopularity and a poor campaign to sell it to voters.

"If we had chosen to have a parliamentary vote last year the constitution would have been easily adopted. It is the method that has provoked the rejection," he said.

"Legally, we could vote again," he said.

Nor would it be "anti-democratic" to hold another referendum, he added. "People have the right to change their opinion. The people might consider they made a mistake."

Giscard said he believed that British voters would never approve the constitutional treaty and proposed instead "a special arrangement resembling that which applied to the euro."

To come into force, the constitutional treaty, hammered out by EU governments ahead of the bloc's 2004 expansion, must be ratified by all 25 member states.

European Commission President José Manuel Barroso has said any decision on the future of the constitution should be delayed until 2008, calling for the best to be made of existing treaties in the meantime.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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