Britain has made it harder for the French to vote 'yes'

Share

The French Foreign Minister, in an interview with this newspaper, has tried to be upbeat about the prospects for a "yes" when France votes on the European Union's constitution next month. Despite his best efforts, however, confidence did not exactly shine through. We hope that any sense of foreboding we detect in his caution proves unfounded. A French "no" would, as Michel Barnier contends, kill the constitution outright and provoke a crisis within the EU. It would also bestow undue significance on a document that is far more an exercise in codification than a grab for more centralised power. The EU does not deserve to suffer such a setback so soon after its successful expansion.

The French Foreign Minister, in an interview with this newspaper, has tried to be upbeat about the prospects for a "yes" when France votes on the European Union's constitution next month. Despite his best efforts, however, confidence did not exactly shine through. We hope that any sense of foreboding we detect in his caution proves unfounded. A French "no" would, as Michel Barnier contends, kill the constitution outright and provoke a crisis within the EU. It would also bestow undue significance on a document that is far more an exercise in codification than a grab for more centralised power. The EU does not deserve to suffer such a setback so soon after its successful expansion.

We need to admit, however, that it is our own professedly pro-Europe government that is partly responsible for France's predicament. Had the Prime Minister not executed his famous U-turn on a referendum in order to keep the general election Europe-free, the pressure in France for a similar vote would have been less. Perversely, it is also our own government's stated satisfaction with the treaty that helped to raise concern among the French. If the British government - seen as more jealous of its sovereignty, more market-oriented, and less concerned about social legislation than the French - is happy with the treaty, then surely too many concessions must have been made by the French.

Where the future of the EU constitution is concerned, Britain and France now find themselves locked in a bizarre dilemma: the more British ministers argue that their view of Europe's future has prevailed, the more likely France is to vote "no" - and vice versa. This should suggest, of course, that the treaty has been correctly judged. But that is not how it will look to jittery ministers on either side.

According to one theory, some British officials favoured an early "no" vote from a small EU country that would pre-empt the need for a referendum here. A country other than Britain would thus take the blame for delaying the streamlining of the EU without sabotaging the whole project. They wanted the best of both worlds: a French rejection would be the worst.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Data Warehouse & Business Intelligence Co-ordinator

£35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Required skills include SQL querying, SSRS, u...

Ashdown Group: C#.Net Developer - C#, ASP.Net, PHP, HTML, JavaScript, CSS

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: C#.Net Developer - C#, ASP.Net, HTML...

Argyll Scott International: Senior Business Analyst- Insurance

Negotiable: Argyll Scott International: Senior Business Analyst - Insurance ...

Recruitment Genius: Property Manager

£25000 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This independent, growing Sales...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

i Editor's Letter: The demise of a Sixties monster

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
A CCTV camera is seen in front of a large poster opposite in central London  

Home Office is creating more powers to turn everyone into suspects – but leave us no safer

Shami Chakrabarti
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game
There's a Good Girl exhibition: How female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising

In pictures: There's a Good Girl exhibition

The new exhibition reveals how female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising
UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover - from advent calendars to doll's houses

UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover

It worked with cupcakes, doughnuts and macarons so no wonder someone decided to revamp the humble biscuit
Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

It's no surprise that the building game born in Sweden in 2009 and now played by millions, has imitators keen to construct their own mega money-spinner
The King's School is way ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology

Staying connected: The King's School

The school in Cambridgeshire is ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology. Richard Garner discovers how teachers and pupils stay connected
Christmas 2014: 23 best women's perfumes

Festively fragrant: the best women's perfumes

Give a loved one a luxe fragrance this year or treat yourself to a sensual pick-me-up
Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition

Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund

The Ox celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition
Billy Joe Saunders vs Chris Eubank Jnr: When two worlds collide

When two worlds collide

Traveller Billy Joe Saunders did not have a pampered public-school upbringing - unlike Saturday’s opponent Chris Eubank Jnr
Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?