Richard North, 11/09/2004  

The seriously Europhile Polish Foreign Minister Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz (why are all foreign ministers Europhile?) has been taking time out to tell the media and anyone else who would listen that a decision by an member state to block ratification of the EU constitution would be a "serious mistake."

Clearly not thinking straight, he went on to say that, "As any compromise, the constitution is not ideal. But the fact it was endorsed by the 25 members of the enlarged EU is already a success." One hopes that he was confused, mixing up member state governments with the peoples and parliaments. A government endorsement, without ratification, does not amount to anything.

Nevertheless, the man was worried enough to say that "Blocking the constitution would have dramatically negative consequences for the climate in Europe. We must do our utmost to avoid it."

However, Cimoszewicz is poles apart from former Socialist French prime minister Laurent Fabius, who has come out against the constitution, intensifying the split amongst the socialists.

In typical Gallic style, though, Fabius stopped short of calling for a "no" vote and settled for telling Chirac he would only support the deal if the president pushed through a series of amendments to compensate for what he calls the constitution's "grave shortcomings" – something which simply cannot happen. But it nicely puts Chirac on the rack in the public eye, for refusing to concede such eminently "reasonable" points.

According to AFP, Fabius wants "a new economic policy be put in place at the European level on the issue of employment" and a "fight against the outsourcing of jobs," both highly populist issues that will appeal to a broad spectrum of French society. Chirac could have difficulty in formulating an effective counter.

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