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Germany

Germany Expects French 'Yes' in EU Vote

Germany expects the French to approve the EU constitution treaty in a referendum next month, Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer said in an interview published Monday. "I firmly believe that France, despite the current opinion polls, will vote 'yes'," he told the Handelsblatt business daily. Fischer said that France's approval of the first EU constitution was crucial as "the founding nation of the European Union." He said the only alternative to allowing the treaty to come into force would be to revert to the 2000 treaty of Nice, which EU leaders have described as a recipe for deadlock in an expanding bloc. "It is an illusion to think one could reopen the constitutional package and renegotiate it. There will not be a better EU constitution in the foreseeable future," he said. A series of recent opinion polls in France suggests that the constitution will be decisively rejected there on May 29 in what would be a strong rebuke to President Jacques Chirac and his center-right government. Germany will not hold a referendum on the constitution but will put it to a vote before parliament. It has scheduled the vote to ratify the treaty before the Bundestag, the lower house of parliament, on May 12 -- ahead of the French vote -- to give its neighbor a boost. The Bundesrat, the upper house, is expected to rubber-stamp it a few weeks later.

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