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EU leaders on constitution drive in Barcelona

EU leaders on constitution drive in Barcelona
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As Spain prepares to become the first EU country to vote in a referendum on the bloc’s new constitution, two of Europe’s leading politicians have thrown their weight behind the ‘yes’ campaign. French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin and EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, after a meeting in Brussels, spoke of the importance of the treaty for the future of Europe. Raffarin will join President Jacques Chirac and the Spanish and German leaders in Barcelona today for a conference urging support for the constitution.

He told EuroNews: “We’re expecting a positive message from Spain. President Chirac is in Spain to add his voice. We believe that the European Union is facing a historic choice.” In order to win the referendum Raffarin said he believed people’s concerns about the document had to be addressed.

“There has to be a ‘no’ so that the ‘yes’ can win. A ‘no’ vote would have worrying implications, concerns about unemployment, concerns about cultural diversity, about national identity, about globalisation along Anglo-Saxon lines. There would be many troubling things about a ‘no’ vote. ‘No’ is not a response, it’s a question, a question from people who are worried, and we have to answer that question.”

The Spanish vote will be closely watched in France, which is due to hold its own vote in the coming months. As in Spain the main political parties have given their backing to the constitution, though there was significant opposition among the Socialists.