Mazzucelli, Colette. (2007) The French Rejection of the European Constitutional Treaty: Implications of a National Debate for Europe’s Union. EUMA Papers, Vol. 7 No. 13 May 2007. [Policy Paper]
[Introduction]. Unlike the 1992 French debate about the ratification of the Treaty on European Union (TEU), an analysis to explain the fate of the European Constitutional Treaty (ECT) must address the failure of the May 29, 2005 referendum to ratify the text in France. Why did a member state integral to European construction reject a document in which French interests, as defined by Mr. Chirac, were very well represented? In order to assemble the pieces of this puzzle, we must start within the French domestic context in order to grapple with decisions taken at the table when the French president and other heads of government negotiated in the European Council. We must then return to the scene of the drama’s climax, inside the hexagon during spring 2005. Mr. Chirac, the chief protagonist in this narrative, provides the main link between the domestic context and negotiations on constitutional treaty reform. A careful reading of one institutional analysis regarding French preferences on the future of Europe concludes: ‘In the end, therefore, the French president and his government were for the most part alone in deciding what France’s preferences were going to be: of course, it remains to be seen whether this will change as the debate on the future of Europe moves into the ratification phase – but that is another story’.1 The pieces in our puzzle begin to come together to reveal a picture in which the ratification is the integral part of the story. This paper argues that state-society relations must be revisited to assess their relevance as an explanation of the French referendum outcome.
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