Monday, May 30, 2005

France Says No To European Referendum

Check it out in French. Or if you feel like reading about it in

PARIS (Reuters) - French President Jacques Chirac sought on Monday to limit the damage from his people's rejection of the European Union constitution while leaders of the 25-member bloc struggled to find a way forward.

The 72-year-old leader spoke to several EU partners to reassure them that France, for decades one of the Union's main pillars, wanted to press on with deeper integration despite the crushing defeat in Sunday's referendum on the new charter.

Chirac ignored calls to quit from the triumphant "No" camp and summoned his prime minister and top ministers for consultations. He prepared to address the nation on Tuesday and was expected to replace Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin.

Chirac and stunned European leaders urged member states to continue the gradual process of ratifying the charter, designed to stop decision-making in the enlarged bloc becoming clogged.