French 'no' would be catastrophic, says Austria

19th April 2005, Comments 0 comments

VIENNA, April 19 (AFP) - Austrian President Heinz Fischer Tuesday said if the "no" vote wins the French referendum on the European Union constitution, it would be a "catastrophic setback" for Europe.

VIENNA, April 19 (AFP) - Austrian President Heinz Fischer Tuesday said if the "no" vote wins the French referendum on the European Union constitution, it would be a "catastrophic setback" for Europe.

"Renouncing the constitution would be a catastrophic setback... even if all is not ideal, there has been some very important progress," Fischer told the daily Kurier.

The social-democrat leader cited as progress the strengthening of the European parliament, improvement in decision-making, and the possibility of holding European referendums.

The Austrian parliament is scheduled to vote on whether to ratify the EU constitution on May 12.

In France, more than 15 opinion polls over the last month have shown that the "no" camp will win a referendum on the constitution on May 29, with a majority of between 51 and 55 percent.

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

Analysts say the charter faces a much tougher test in France than in Spain because of the risk of a voter backlash over the government's cost-cutting reforms, concerns over Turkey's possible entry to the bloc and anger over plans to liberalise the EU's services sector.

© AFP

Subject: French News

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