So says a recently published French poll, published a month before the French presidential elections. The same survey asked French citizens who they thought they would best be able to move the European Experiment forward as France’s next president. So who are these candidates and what are they proposing to do for the future of Europe?
"My name is Ariane and I live in Paris. I think that European issues in the French elections are very important because I think France can't do without Eruope, we're part of a big whole and we can't be on the outside."
Only three candidates out of the twelve in France's upcoming presidential and legislative elections, scored more than twenty percent in a recent survey asking voters who would be best to pursue the construction of European union. They are "Nicolas Sarkozy", the conservative U-M-P candidate, "Ségolène Royal", the Socialist Party's candidate and "Francois Bayrou", the centrist.
And when I asked three European parliamentarians from France - members of each of the three top candidates' parties - about their candidate's policies for Europe they expressed similar ideas, sometimes in different ways.
"The EU budget - which amounts to 110 billion euros - is funded by the national budgets, and all national budgets in the big countries: in Germany, UK, France and Italy, are in deficit and it's very dificult for them to give something more to the EU budget. That's why our objective will be to launch a new initiative to give the Union its financial constitution. We need initiatives on some specific policies that clearly pertain to the European level, if we don't we will be powerless. Fight against terrorism, immigration, fight against global warming, common policy on energy, on foreign policy in the Balkans, in the Middle East maybe in Africa and Afghanistan."
Bérès Pervenche is a Socialist MEP, she also says the Socialist candidate Ségolène Royal is concerned about changing the financial protocol, but most importantly so that projects and policies approved in the European Council can be implemented. Then she says Europe can build more than ideas and can save hopes from being dashed.
"I think she realised that French people are in some way disappointed in concrete matters and her main engagement in this field is to say now Europe needs to be demonstrating to the people, to the citizens, that it's useful and able to carry on concrete projects. What concretely Ségolène Royal has proposed now is that you will need in the same time that would have these institutional reforms, that you would have a protocol pointing out the important subjects for European people. This means energy, climate change but also social matters."
"François Bayrou knows that France has a role to play. The only way for France to stay in its culture, to continue to play this role of leader in democratic development is to take a major place in the development of the future of Europe. I will not give you the impression of these bloody froggies who are convinced that they are the best in the world and in Europe. We are not alone in Europe and we know perfectly the only solution to develop this power is beside the Americans not against them. That's the way we are considering the union especially with our British friends, German, but with all the people from the 27 countries today, is to speak with one voice."
The European Union constitution - rejected more than fifty per cent of French voters in a referendum two years ago - is of course an issue. The Socialists were totally divided over the Constitution. Royal and Bayrou have promised to hold another referendum on a new draft. A slimmer version without policy issues is recommended by all three French presidential candidates. But Sarkozy is in favour of parliamentary ratification and against a referendum. Even though exclusively national issues are dominating the electoral debate in France, the question of Europe has to be broached, as whoever wins on May 6th 2007, will be chairing the European Union on July 1st the following year.
Listen to the report:
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