» France says no to E.U. Charter: what did you hear in your Country ?

France says no to E.U. Charter: what did you hear in your Country ?

After 50 years of european integration, France said NO yesterday to the E.U. Charter. The first reason according to polls is fears from the French to lose their jobs on account of lower labor cost countries in the E.U.

What did you hear about it in your countries ? What do you think about this major event in Europe ? Has your image of France changed ?

Thanks very much in advance for your comments, I am very interested to have your perspective (don’t forget to mention where you are).

  • http://www.merodeando.com Julio Alonso

    Loic, I favored with little success a no vote in Spain, probably for different reasons: My reasons for a no vote.

  • http://www.bazaarz.com Dennis Howlett

    I think it is a disaster from an IT investment perspective both in France and longer term in Europe as a whole…unless this mess is sorted out.
    I’ve lived in the UK, France and Spain

  • http://rvr.typepad.com/ Víctor R. Ruiz

    The media in Spain has covered closely the French election. They say the ‘no’ is due to internal problems and that’s why Chirac will change Prime Minister. Yours is the first comment I read about losing jobs to eastern countries. To me, it’s a shame that France has voted no, because I think that this is a good Constitution for EU, with enough social content to make happy left parties.
    By the way, I see some paranoid in Spain being built around Chinese cheap products, specially in the textile field. I don’t know whether the competition in eastern countries will be hard, what I know is that China and other asian countries will kick our asses if we loose the time… and the ‘no’ seems so.

  • http://www.ang6666.blogspot.com Angie

    According to SFGate.com — Critics fueled voters with fear of a more powerful EU in which France no longer would have influence, and of an increasingly “Anglo-Saxon” and “ultraliberal” Europe where free-market capitalism would run wild. — The “non” vote is all over the net, but they aren’t pinning it to any one reason as to the whys.
    Btw, I’m in San Francisco. And also, has it changed my views of France? Nah, I still on plan on living there one day.

  • Omid Zehtab

    The non vote was a triumph of the pleasure principle over the reality principle, to use Sigmund Freud’s terms. I am sure the people of France felt good when they exercized thier power, but now they are going to wake up with a hangover: Europe in recession and China, India, and the United States growing stronger day by day. You cannot wish the world away, you have to deal with it. The EU is still inevitable, only now the people of Europe have lost three or more precious years to childish behavior.
    I am an American but I have lived in Germany and traveled throughout Europe, but not to France.

  • http://ross.typepad.com Ross Mayfield

    What, is Europe hoping for another Marshall Plan to start the process over again? Or worse?
    Actually, I’m not that worried. Either bread riots or a social revolution will have people realize what they have done.
    A truly regressive moment in history.
    From the US, a place of many recent electoral failures, Ross

  • http://www.hebig.com Heiko Hebig

    The referendum was followed very closely in Germany. Not only because of close ties between France and Germany, but also because many Germans would have liked a referendum as well. But the German parliament voted “yes” without further involving the people.
    Somehow the French left managed to sell the idea that the EU charter or “constituation” imposes a threat to French employment and future economic growth.
    The right did not succeed in explaining that the Charter (more or less) merely replaces existing rules and regulations.
    The Charter is damn complex. Too complex for many to read. So it’s up to the sales people to explain what’s in it. The French left has good sales people it seems.

  • http://iankennedy.typepad.com/ Ian Kennedy

    Stephen Baker’s Blogspotting blog reports that the blogger Etienne Chouard had a large influence on the vote.

  • http://www.eire.com/ Antoin O Lachtnain

    Well, here in Ireland there is certainly quite a bit of anti-European sentiment. Generally, the opposition isn’t really because of any serious bad thing the EU has done, b
    but more because of fear of the unknown and fear of foreigners.
    There are a lot of good things about the EU, but there are two or three really big problems, and the EU needs to sort them out before it goes off holding any more referenda. The things are:
    1. It’s not really very democratic. This is the major problem. There isn’t a system of full parliamentary oversight in the EU.
    2. It makes everything really complicated. Everything to do with the EU is full of funny terminology and procedures. Maybe some of this is necessary, but it has to be explained better.
    3. It doesn’t communicate its message to the common man very well. It depends on local politicians in each country to explain its message to the man on the street. This works well if the politicians happen to be popular at the time (Spain) but not if they aren’t (France).
    This is an article I wrote about it on my own weblog.

  • http://www.gapingvoid.com hugh macleod

    It was an entrenched move by the French.
    France is a nice culture, but it is an entrenched culture.
    A lot of Europe is entrenched these days. And America.

  • http://maarten.typepad.com Maarten Schenk

    Well, in Belgium we are jealous that you got to have your say in a referendum, because we didn’t. Our parliament quietly approved it, without much debate or fuss at all.
    The funny thing is, we hear about the bad things the constitution will bring from both sides of our borders: our Dutch neigbours are complaining that the new constitution will place too many limits on freedom (i.e. their drug policy, free-market policies etc.) while our French neighbours down south keep shouting that it will make the economy too free and break down social protections and whatnot…
    If you ask me, there is a lot of stuff in that document that shouldn’t be in a constitution anyway. A constitution should say how a state or union is organised, how leadership changes and who has power over what and for how long. It shouldn’t dictate how that power should or shouldn’t be used.
    All that stuff about foreign policy, social protection, economic measures… should be in ‘normal’ laws, that the democratically elected (European) parliament can then vote on. How that European Parliament is elected and what its powers are? That should be in the constitution, IMHO, and only things like that.
    Also, I don’t like the way the constitution ‘grants’ E.U. citizens all kinds of rights. I like the American model much better: in their constitution, it is explicitly stated that the people *have* all kinds of rights (they don’t *get* them from the state) and that the people grant the state certain rights (not the other way round). It also says that what is outside these rights, the state has no business with. In the European model it seems like there is a rule for everything. Sheesh…
    And that is why I would have voted ‘No’ if I got the chance. Nothing to do with Turkey, Polish Plumbers or fear for my job, quite the contrary.

  • Loic

    thanks very much for your comments

  • http://AlexandreJean.blogs.com Alexandre-Jean Reille

    Thanks for asking that question, Loic.
    (am french , and was wondering too)

  • Esme Vos

    The EU Constitution has 320+ pages. They expect people to wade through this thick document filled with legalese and a few nice sounding phrases that mean absolutely nothing. I’m a lawyer and I found it very taxing to go through the entire thing. Having a glass of excellent Bordeaux did not help at all. Worst of all is the question that people here in the Netherlands will have to answer tomorrow – do you like it? Yes or no? What kind of question is that? Do I like what? Which part? There’s 320 pages for heavens sake and numerous clauses, some of which I agree with and others I don’t. Why doesn’t the EU ask me and my fellow voters what we REALLY want?
    The referendum is a complete waste of time and a total insult to my intelligence and the intelligence of everyone else who is being asked to vote tomorrow. The leaders of this country and those in charge in the EU have shown nothing, absolutely nothing but contempt for us. No, we’re too stupid. Yes or no is good enough for us.
    Here’s what they were counting on. They were counting on us voting YES, like a bunch of zombies, so that they could then go on and do whatever they wanted to do (example, awarding themselves and their political party cronies even higher salaries and nicer perks). And if we complain, they’ll say, “oh but you voted yes in a democratic referendum.” Bah!
    [Note: I posted these comments on BuzzMachine as well]

  • http://jochem.doncqueurs.com/ Jochem Donkers

    The Economist has a really nice draft for a new constitution at their website (www.economist.com/euconstitution/).
    Secondly, the Washington Post published a really good column. It was translated in the Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsblad, but here the original version.
    Chirac’s Failure To Lead
    By David Ignatius
    Monday, May 30, 2005; A21
    BRUSSELS — France’s stunning rejection Sunday of a new European constitution was, most of all, a noisy protest against the disruptive, leveling force of economic globalization. You could see that in television images of the “no” voters as the result was announced — burly arms raised in the air, fists cocked — as if by rejecting a set of technical amendments to European rules they could hold back a threatening future.
    And you could see the result on the faces of the losers — glum establishment politicians being interviewed after the vote, trying to put a brave spin on a devastating defeat. For this no vote had been opposed by nearly all the luminaries of the French political class in both the socialist and conservative parties.
    It was a no that resonated on many levels: a rejection of the document and the wider Europe it came to symbolize, a rejection of a market-driven way of life that’s taken for granted in America, and above all a rejection of President Jacques Chirac, who tried to trick and cajole France into embracing the realities of the global economy, rather than forthrightly explaining them.
    Fear of the future is always a powerful political force, and one that often has unfortunate consequences. And it’s hard in this case to see much positive coming out of the French no. Europe will go on as before, but European politicians will be tempted to waste even more time soft-pedaling the fact of global competition rather than helping their people adapt and change.
    Chirac will be a chief victim of Sunday’s vote, and he richly deserves the scorn that will be shoveled his way. His mistake was far larger than what commentators were citing Sunday night: his decision to put the constitution to a vote even though that wasn’t technically necessary. Chirac’s real failure was his inability over two terms as president to level with the French people about the changes that are needed to protect the way of life they cherish. He played games with economic reform — tiptoeing up to the edge and then pulling back at any sign of public displeasure.
    Living in France for four years, I came to appreciate what a wonderful country it is, with a quality of life that is truly the envy of the world. Not surprisingly, it is also an intensely conservative country, for all its reputation for liberality. Whatever their class, age or political orientation, French people want to conserve what they’ve got. They want to maintain inflexible management and labor unions, six-week vacations, a 35-hour workweek — and also to be a growing, dynamic, entrepreneurial economy. Chirac never had the guts to tell the French they couldn’t have it both ways. He never explained that rigid labor rules had led to a high unemployment rate, currently 10.2 percent.
    The French could use a Bill Clinton, whose most powerful theme as president was his 1996 campaign slogan of building “a bridge to the 21st century.” Clinton assured American workers that he felt their pain about outsourcing and global competition — and so would provide the training and other help for people to find jobs in the new economy. He never pretended that workers could opt out of competition. Chirac was never able to sound that positive theme in his “yes” campaign.
    The most interesting potential successor to Chirac is the ambitious man for all seasons, Nicolas Sarkozy. In his comments Sunday night, the conservative party leader was at least being realistic — insisting that with the constitutional referendum, the era of French immobilism must end. He was quoted in this week’s Economist voicing this inescapable truth: “The best social model is the one that gives work to everybody. It is not, therefore, our own.”
    French are suspicious of “Anglo-Saxon” ideas, but they would do well this morning to consider the case of Britain and Europe. The British held back from the original European Economic Community in the 1950s because they saw joining this larger Europe as a symbol of their own failure and weakness. But they came around and applied for membership — whereupon French President Charles de Gaulle vetoed their application in 1963. Still, the British kept coming, over bitter opposition from their own conservatives, left and right, because they knew that embracing Europe was the only way forward. They finally found a balance between a European common market and their own political and cultural identity.
    The French people are right to worry about the future. With their current economic structure, they’ll never make it. Saying no to Chirac is understandable, but to prosper in the 21st century, the French will soon need to say yes to a politician who tells it straight, and helps them build their own bridge to the future.

  • Michel Thomas

    The french “NON” remind me of the swedish “NEJ” to the €°…It took apart political parties. It was easier to gather against the establishement rather than for changes. But now three year later, the kronor is loosing value against the euro and Sweden has somehow negative feelings about Bruxelles. French rejection of the constituttion is to bad. It will only make it harder for Europe to go forwards with neccessary reforms.

  • http://www.aspirin.nl Apirin.nl

    Dear Loïc,
    The French NON is nothing else than the Dutch NEE.. (I will vote today).. people do not vote for or against the EU, people vote against government policy and lack of information…
    I had a hard time in choosing and go for JA (Qui)

  • http://www.royal-ts.de Tobias

    Marteen, where do you get that the Union ‘grants’ the rights rather than respecting them and limiting state interference?
    The treaty states that “The Union shall recognise the rights, freedoms and principles set out in the Charter of Fundamental Rights which constitutes ” and the articles in said Charter are generally in the form of “Everyone has the right to…”. Not quite as elegant as the US constitution I’ll grant you, but e.g. the German Grundgesetz does something very similar.

  • Johanna

    I’m French and all I can say is they said no for no good reason, actually yeah they didn’t know what they were voting for, so they said no. How do you explain that France says “it’s not social enough” and UK says “it’s too social”?
    We have a major problem here.
    They complain about the E.U not doing enough and being limited on some actions and then vote no. How stupid is that? If they really wanted to go forward why did they stepback and say no?
    As far as I’m concerned, France is way too social, not that social is not good but c’mon.

  • http://www.last-minute-reisen.name charter
  • florent

    i’m a french student in a business school and i voted “no”. Why? At the beginning we saw former president giscard d’estaing working on a draft for a european constitution and at this time it was a great hope…having a text which permit all europeans to work together in the same framework!
    but as the text was elaborated, it seems more and more far of what should be a constitution, far from people needs.
    at the end there are so many things which do not have their place in a constitution and things who must be but missed…
    I voted no because I don’t want to live in a area which promote a specific model of economic for years…I mean, with this constitution the only way to fight against poverty and iniquity (which are for me the most important problems to solve)was to promote economic relations between human be…I don’t want to run for money, and I don’t want to help people with money and nothing else…I’m not sure I’m clear because I’ve got a bad english and I’m sorry about that but I want to say that the power must be in people hands who love their fellows and not in those who’ve got the money…money must not run things. Love should be!
    more over, men like O.duhamel, who work on the charter of fundamental rights makes me sick…he said he was very proud of this stuff but when I read it I see so much compromises, so much things forgotten that I simply can’t accept it and vote “oui”…
    finally, to vote ‘no” represent a great hope…those we wanted the “yes” to succeed now say it will be very difficult for european countries to be unit against the growing economic like china, etc…
    I say that it is the fantastic chance to promote a new model based on liabilities of every counries, every human be to make (all) people live in harmony….we’ve got a lot of work indeed but I think some are ready for years!
    like we say in france, now the ball is in our field: so let’s wrote another constitution which promote harmony and no competition…

  • Ali

    EU is the death of the British Democracy

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