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Jacques Delors argues against complete redrawing of EU constitution


Jacques Delors argues against complete redrawing of EU constitution


He was the eighth president of the European Commission, serving three mandates from 1985 to 94. So what does Jacques Delors, a former French finance minister and economist, think about the current state of the bloc? He spoke to EuroNews ahead of the 50th anniversary of the founding of the union, giving his views on the stalled plans for a new constitution.

EuroNews: “We are celebrating the Treaty of Rome in a few days. How do you think Europe is doing, 50 years on?”

Delors: “The results are largely positive; we’ve established a place of peace, aboveall mutual understanding and cooperation between populations, and that’s not something we can take for granted in today’s world. Also, instead of having diplomatic arm wrestles over every difficulty that comes up in economic relations and trade between our countries, we have rules of law, and that’s unique in the history of the world: sovereign countries are getting together to exercise a part of their sovereignty under the control of the rule of law. And finally, throughout the 50 years, all of our countries have been stimulated by having a common market, able to rebuild, modernise, adapt. However, once again, and it’s already happened before in the past, there is a period of crisis.”

EuroNews: “How can we relaunch the European Union today? Can we do it by focusing on social issues?”

Delors: “There will be, without a doubt, a social dimension to clarify. But that’s not the problem. The problem has often cropped up in the history of the union. The thing is, there are two positions: there are 20 countries that accepted the treaty, two that refused, and five countries looking on with a strong air of euro-scepticism. So, it would be pretentious of me to say today ‘here is the miracle solution’, because my experience tells me that when we’re in a situation like this, we have to have a debate, move the two positions. It’s little by little, during discussion, that compromises appear – a dynamic compromise, not a compromise that takes Europe backwards.”

EuroNews: “The policy of compromise worked more or less when there were 15 members, can it work with 27?”

Delors: “Yes, because I think that no one … if we make progress, if the positions are moved … no one wants to be responsible for prolonging the crisis. Also, everyone will take into account their past experience in the union.”

EuroNews: “But what can be done about the constitution today, in concrete terms?”

Delors: “If we had to start again with a blank page, taking into account what we saw during the preparation period, it’s not easy to sort out all the points of view. So, we can’t start again from scratch. We therefore have to take certain elements of this treaty and stop calling it a constitution, because this source of confusion is one of the reasons for the ‘no’ vote in France. Some people thought that Europe had all the power, whereas, for example, unemployment in France depends on national politicis and not the European Union. Let’s just say we have to retake certain elements.”

EuroNews: “And what if we don’t manage to carry out this reform, so the EU works with 27 members?”

Delors: “In this case, if it unfortunately comes to this, our government leaders, who have experience in this, will tell cock and bull fairytales to the people, and little by little the European Union will unravel: common rules will be applied less and less, we will lose our aggressiveness, our ability to defend ourselves in big trade deals. Will we always have the courage to carry on helping poor countries, as we’re number one for development and humanitarian aid. I think ongoing stagnation will result in us going backwards, not a consolidation of skills.

EuroNews: “What do you think about the French presidential election campaign, and the candidates’ position on Europe during speeches and debates?”

Delors: “I am disappointed, full stop. I have nothing more to say on this, given my position.”

EuroNews: “Should we have a new referendum in France?”

Delors: “It seems to me, Yes. We asked for the people’s opinion once; there was a big debate; the ‘no’ camp won, despite my hopes. And if there is a new treaty, it should be presented to the French people so it can be discussed. It’s about parallels, which we’re obliged to follow: it’s democracy, to explain and explain, but also to listen and listen.”

EuroNews: “Has Europe today really broken-down? Or is it an exaggeration to say that?”

Delors: “A year ago I talked about a slight coma. But then I noticed that the European Council, that’s to say the heads of state, reached agreement on certain medium and long-term elements within energy policies; that proves that it’s still moving, still turning.”

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