France adopts amendment for EU treaty

17th February 2005, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Feb 17 (AFP) - France's Senate on Thursday approved an amendment to the country's 1958 constitution to pave the way for a referendum later this year on the EU's new constitutional treaty.

PARIS, Feb 17 (AFP) - France's Senate on Thursday approved an amendment to the country's 1958 constitution to pave the way for a referendum later this year on the EU's new constitutional treaty.

The upper house of parliament, which is dominated by supporters of President Jacques Chirac, adopted the bill by 263 votes to 27 with 30 abstentions.

Having been approved earlier this month by the lower house, the National Assembly, the text will be put to a special session of the two chambers at the end of March before it passes into the constitution.

Government and parliament sources said the special joint session would be held on March 14 at the Versailles chateau, but Chirac's office later insisted that no date had been set.

The main article of the bill stipulates that France "can participate in the European Union under the conditions laid out in the treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe signed on October 29, 2004."

The EU constitution - which is designed to facilitate decision-making in the expanding bloc - is to be put to the French people in a referendum in the first half of this year.

The centre-right government had originally suggested a June vote, but with polls showing a steady erosion of the "yes" camp insiders this week said it could be brought forward to May.

Two opinion polls in recent days have indicated a five point drop in the number of people preparing to vote in favour of the constitution. The figure now stands at under 60 percent.

Opposition to the EU constitution is spearheaded by the political left, which says the constitution is a sell-out to pro-business economic policies. Its campaign has been boosted in recent weeks by a succession of popular protests against Chirac's government.

Votes against the constitution in the Senate came from the Communist party and a handful of right-wing nation-staters such as former interior minister Charles Pasqua.

Some members of the Socialist party abstained.

© AFP

Subject: French News

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