The date of the referendum about the Constitutional Treaty is coming closer in France and the time has come for large collective calls. The debate continues to stir reactions in the neighboring countries.
In the U.K. the issue is far more important since the organization or not of a referendum in that country will be most likely to depend on the result of the French referendum. It is also the right time to hit back at a political class that did not accept the French opposition to the Iraq war. Such is the case with Denis Mac Shane, who relinquished his ministry of European Affairs following the last elections, and who has no more respect for the diplomatic language to which he was once compelled. In The Independent, Mac Shane finally gave free rein to his anger against French President Jacques Chirac: “he is old, thinks only of eating, has France stagnated, rejected the Iraq war, and his current unpopularity will thwart the referendum on the Constitutional Treaty”. The former minister, who until recently, praised the influence of France on the Treaty to give it value in the eyes of French voters, called France into changing its policy after the referendum, whichever the result, and into getting closer to the Anglo-Saxon model. On his part, conservative parliamentary member Boris Johnson, who opposed the text, mocks the French “no” in the Daily Telegraph at the same time that he hopes for a negative result. By voting “no” for the wrong reasons (i.e., social problems, free trade), the French are allowing the conservatives to annul a text, which is considered by the latter to enclose much more economic regulations. The author admits that the Treaty does not restrict at least any competition or circulation of capital, but by permitting the majority rule in some spheres, it strips the British of their right to veto - something unacceptable as it would attack the Anglo-Saxon liberalism.

In France, there is not that fear of a text that would not be liberal enough. In Le Figaro, a group of UMP neo-liberal parliamentarians declared themselves to be in favor of a “yes” and asserted that there is nothing to be afraid of in relation to new regulations from Brussels concerning the Treaty. On the contrary, this would allow to impose economic changes still unaccepted in France. The text is backed by another call, published the same day in the same daily. One hundred directors of French companies, members of the Company Institute, declared themselves in favor of the Treaty. Thanks to this text, France will go on with the necessary economic reforms for the companies’ good health. As they know that this opinion can result in the concern of many a citizen, they try, however, to tone down things: the Treaty will equally allow to preserve the French social model. Reading the names of some of its signatories, as is the case with Denis Kessler, there is no other alternative than questioning ourselves about the ornamental nature of such linguistic diplomacy.

In addition to the neo-liberal orientation of the text, the atlantism of the project is also one of the strong arguments put forward by the “no” supporters. One more time in Le Figaro, UMP parliamentarian and President of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly Pierre Lellouche, tries to persuade the Gaullist readers that the Treaty does not renounce Europe as a power. He states that the text is not atlantist and consequently minimizes the scope of Article I-40 about the submission of the European defense to NATO. In contrast, he tells us that by developing its military abilities the European Union can become a powerful Europe, with or without NATO.

Another topic of concern that lets “no” accumulate votes is the role of the Eastern Europe countries in the European construction. The neo-liberalism and atlantism of the majority of the governments in this region are of concern for the French electors. André Erdos, Pavel Fischer, Maria Krasno-Horska and Jan Tombinski - ambassadors to France from Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Poland respectively, signed together with co-executive secretaries of the Central European Forum Georges Mink and Jean-Pierre Pagé, a tribune the purpose of which is to calm down the readers of Libération. The new members appreciate the concept of Europe as a power, provided that it does not go against its relationships with the United States. Additionally, the text includes social progresses that strengthen the European model.

On the other hand, feminist lawyer Gisèle Halimi denounced in Le Monde a text, which, in her opinion, is an attack against women’s rights. Favoring the bonds with the church without talking of laicism, mentioning the “right to life” without giving any right to the voluntary termination of pregnancy, the European Constitution jeopardizes the conquests of past wars. She consequently called the feminists to decline the text.

To conclude, former Algerian and Tunisian Ministers Sid Ahmed Ghozali and Mohamed Mzali respectively, examined in Le Figaro the debates on Europe. For them, the result of the referendum scarcely matters, what really matters is the debate since it can be a source of inspiration for the Maghreb in favor of its own unity. However, they lament that the trans-Mediterranean dialogue be not approached with more thoroughness. In fact, they consider that Europe must become the counterbalance of the “hyper-power” in the region.