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EUROPEAN UNION CONSTITUTION - HOSTAGE TO A POLITICAL BATTLE

Zsapka: French vote reflects crisis

PETER Zsapka, analyst with the Center for European Policy thinks that the French rejection of the EU Constitutional Treaty in a referendum held on May 29 will have a considerable impact on political and economic life in the EU.

PETER Zsapka, analyst with the Center for European Policy thinks that the French rejection of the EU Constitutional Treaty in a referendum held on May 29 will have a considerable impact on political and economic life in the EU.

According to the analyst, the debate that preceded the vote in France revealed that the EU-15 (as the EU was prior to May 2004) is afraid of the competition and potential threat to their prosperity that the 10 new member states represent.

Zsapka spoke to The Slovak Spectator on May 30.


The Slovak Spectator (TSS): Why do you think a negative attitude prevailed in France against the document?

Peter Zsapka (PZ): The EU constitution became a hostage to the local political battle. The opposition wanted to use the document to cause a crisis in the ruling coalition and in this respect succeeded. However, the whole of Europe will bear the consequences. No to the constitution means a no to French President Jacques Chirac and PM Jean Pierre Raffarin, no to Turkey, no to competition from the East, and no to agricultural reform.


TSS: What impact will the results of the vote have on the ratification process?

PZ: I personally think that it will lead to the halting of the ratification process because a repeat referendum in France is unlikely. In addition to that, a similar result is also expected in Holland and in Great Britain.


TSS: What effect will the vote have inside the EU? Will there be internal EU conflict?

PZ: This is one of the biggest crises in the history of European integration. It will have an impact on political and economic life in the EU. It is important to note that the country that rejected the document stood at the birth of modern European integration.


TSS: What effect do you think this vote will have on EU newcomers such as Slovakia?

PZ: Slovakia did discuss the constitution and considered its ratification to be its duty. Maybe we will lose our diffidence and speak more rigorously about similar documents in the future. The French constitutional debate showed that many people in the original EU15 consider us [newcomers] to be a threat to their prosperity.

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