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Europe

French Referendum Battle Heats Up

The battle lines in the debate on the European Constitution are beginning to form more clearly in France.

French President Jacques Chirac made a plea in Madrid on Monday for the campaign not to be hijacked by partisan issues. "It's a crucial question for our future," he said. "Every French citizen will have to give their opinion on the Constitutional text and I will do everything I can to avoid this question being used for partisan purposes." Chirac and his party - the center-right UMP - are broadly in favor of a "yes" vote. Speaking on the fringes of a Finance Ministers' meeting in the Netherlands over the weekend, French Finance Minister Nicolas Sarkozy - who is almost certain to become head of the UMP in a forthcoming election - said, "you can only be influential in Europe if you are inside." (EUobserver.com)

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