US skirts possible French rejection of EU charter

20th April 2005, Comments 0 comments

WASHINGTON, April 19 (AFP) - The United States on Tuesday skirted the issue over possible French rejection of the EU constitution, saying it was an internal matter for the European bloc.

WASHINGTON, April 19 (AFP) - The United States on Tuesday skirted the issue over possible French rejection of the EU constitution, saying it was an internal matter for the European bloc.

"I see this as a question for members of the European Union to discuss and debate and decide," deputy State Department spokesman Adam Ereli said, reacting to opinion polls consistently showing France will reject the constitution.

The blueprint, which aims to streamline decision-making in the expanded 25-member EU, must be ratified by all member states. A rejection in France, one of the EU's largest countries, would effectively kill the treaty.

Ereli said that "whatever is decided on this issue, on this particular case, we will continue to count on a strong relationship with the EU in confronting common challenges."

He said that the US position on the EU was clear: "that it's an important and valued partner, one that we work with closely on issues spanning the full range of global significance."

A series of recent opinion polls in France suggests that the constitution will be decisively rejected there on May 29 in what would be a strong rebuke to President Jacques Chirac and his centre-right government.

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.

The United States and the EU will hold their annual summit in Washington on June 20 to review the state of relations between the two sides.

© AFP

Subject: French News

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