Thu 15 Nov 2007
By Bruno Waterfield in Brussels The Telegraph
Last Updated: 2:48am GMT 15/11/2007
Referendums on the new European Union Treaty were "dangerous" and would be lost in France, Britain and other countries, Nicolas Sarkozy has admitted.
Sarkozy addresses members of the European parliament in Strasbourg yesterday.
The French president's confession that governments could not win popular votes on a "simplified treaty" - drawn up to replace the EU constitution rejected by his countrymen two years ago - was made in a closed meeting of senior Euro-MPs."France was just ahead of all the other countries in voting no. It would happen in all member states if they have a referendum. There is a cleavage between people and governments," he said."A referendum now would bring Europe into danger. There will be no Treaty if we had a referendum in France, which would again be followed by a referendum in the UK."
The comments confirm suspicions that the real reason why Britain, and all other EU countries, apart from Ireland, were refusing to hold popular votes was because governments were afraid they would lose them.
Nigel Farage, the leader of the UK Independence Party, accused Mr Sarkozy and Gordon Brown of following "an utterly cynical political plan". "Not only does he stop his own people from having a say but he is trying to block Britain from having the referendum which our government promised," he said.
But the French president told MEPs: "It would be a mistake to think that with the simplified treaty we have sorted everything, we can sleep easy and that no other issues are pending."
He is planning to use his turn at the EU's rotating presidency, in the second half of next year, to call for new European powers in highly sensitive areas. This seems to be true of the Euromediterranean Partnership, as well .
E.g. he has promised King Muhammed VI of Morocco to do his utmost to help Morocco to narrower ties with the EU, according to the Euromediterranean declarations. In his speech on Oct. 24, 2007, he said: " You can count on France for the start of short Negotiations on an advanced level with the EU "
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