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Prime Minister Vanhanen downplays horror scenarios after French vote
Finland to continue ratification process
Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen on Monday sought to calm down fears of a crisis in the European Union. Commenting on the rejection of the European Union’s proposed constitution by French voters in Sunday’s referendum, Vanhanen said that the result has put France in a serious and exceptional state, but that moderation is nevertheless needed.
"We must not lament the result too much. Now we must seek a way out, and for that reason it would be good for as many countries as possible to keep their heads cool and consider with care the best way of moving forward from the point of view of the overall interest of the Union", Vanhanen said.
Vanhanen finds it paradoxical that the French opponents of the treaty were using issues that the constitution seeks to address as arguments against the treaty.
"The aim was specifically to narrow the gap between the EU and the citizens, and to clarify the treaties into a comprehensible form. And then the French went against the treaty because of the remoteness of the Union."
Vanhanen expects dramatic debate in the coming days over the future of the EU. However, he warns against a doomsday mentality.
He also says that the EU must be careful not to become introverted, and to focus on issues that have a real impact on member states and their citizens.
The Prime Minister, who visited Kuwait on Monday, underscores the importance of economic growth.
"In Europe we should wake up to the growth that is taking place in the Persian Gulf region, China, and India. Europe must strengthen its competitiveness and confront the challenges of globalisation, which was discussed in a very negative fashion shortly before the French referendum. A reaction of denial and shutting the eyes cannot be the way Europe responds to challenges", Vanhanen emphasised.
Finland is to continue the process of ratifying the constitution as before. According to Vanhanen, the result of the French vote must not affect the process in the other EU countries. "The starting point is that everyone first goes through the ratification process, and then we’ll see what the result is."
However, the situation requires debate on the proposed constitution already at the EU’s June summit. Vanhanen will get the reactions of Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker when the two meet today, Tuesday.
"More pressure than before will pile up on the Finnish Presidency. Even though the time for decision for the budget framework is now, the risk that it would be postponed is growing. The handling of the service directive can also slow down", Vanhanen predicted.
Finnish opponents of the EU constitution had reason to celebrate. MP Timo Soini of the True Finns party called the result the best birthday present he ever had in his life, and a "disaster for the Brussels elite".
In his view the EU is a fading organisation, where people might notice now that citizens only want loose cooperation.
"In spite of massive fear mongering and brainwashing, France voted no. The Netherlands will also probably reject the constitution, and it will never pass in Britain. In the long term I see Northern Europe and Britain leaving this collective farm", Soini said.