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Ireland/fiscal compact vote – France/fiscal compact renegotiation

Published on June 1, 2012
Interview given by M. Bernard Cazeneuve, Minister Delegate for European Affairs, to LCI (excerpts)

Paris, May 31, 2012

Q. – Europe is in the headlines, because today Ireland votes for or against the treaty. Would you like the Irish to adopt it, to say “yes” obviously and ratify it?

(…)

THE MINISTER – You’re familiar with our position on the treaty: we believe it isn’t good and therefore has to be renegotiated, modified. President Hollande said this clearly during the presidential election [campaign]. Since the presidential election…

Q. – So in fact you’d like the Irish to reject it?

THE MINISTER – That’s not what I’m saying.

Q. – No, it’s what might be understood?

THE MINISTER – We’d like the treaty to be renegotiated. It must be, in order to introduce elements enabling Europe not to be condemned to austerity, and to create the conditions for growth. It’s something President Hollande set to work on from the day of his investiture, during his meeting with Angela Merkel. It was on the G8 agenda. As you pointed out, the discussions continued yesterday between President Hollande, Mrs Merkel, Mr Monti and President Obama.

Our goal is therefore to ensure that in the coming weeks, and in the run-up to the European summit of 28 and 29 June, we can create the conditions in Europe for growth.

We want to ensure that this treaty is renegotiated before it’s presented to parliament for ratification.

Q. – So that means no referendum?

THE MINISTER – For the time being, we envisage a debate and ratification in parliament.

Q. – From what you say, it seems that you wouldn’t be very sorry if the Irish voted “no”?

THE MINISTER – I don’t have to give my opinion on this because there are practices and principles. All Europe’s peoples are sovereign… (…)

Q. – Of course, but if 12 countries ratify this treaty it will be adopted and so France will have to apply it as it stands! Or will she say “no, we’re keeping out of this ratification”?

THE MINISTER – I think it’ll be very difficult, given the importance of our country’s role in the European Union and what President Hollande has firmly said, for ratification to get under way in the European Union without a consensus and agreement. I don’t think there’ll be any possibility of getting the treaty implemented without a rebalancing which takes account of what France is saying. France is a major country putting across a strong message in the ongoing discussions.

(…)

Q. – And are we moving towards a chapter on growth included in the treaty or a renegotiation, in the strict sense of the word?

THE MINISTER – There’s open discussion on this. What we’d like is a rebalancing which allows the current treaty to be renegotiated by introducing in the current arrangements elements to encourage growth.

President Hollande very clearly repeated at last week’s informal summit of heads of state and government that he wanted these pro-growth measures to be genuine, concrete measures: consolidation of the European Stability Mechanism, the possibility of the ESM being used to help strengthen banks which may find themselves in difficulty; eurobonds; the €10 billion recapitalization of the European Investment Bank; project bonds to finance major future investment projects which could generate growth for tomorrow and beyond, and future jobs. These are all major issues we’re working on and on which there’s open discussion. (…)./.

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