The French constitution is set to be reformed to allow for a vote on the European constitution by the end of spring.
Changes to the French constitution to allow the ratification of the European Constitution are set to be agreed by March or April, enabling a referendum on the issue before July, according to French daily Le Figaro. The reforms will be placed before the parliament on Jan. 25 and are expected to be finally cleared in March or April, the paper wrote. This would pave the way for a referendum to take place in June. Interior Minister Dominique de Villepin is thought to favor a vote in the first fortnight in June, preceding the summer holidays and, importantly, the likely beginning of accession talks with Turkey. But technical difficulties remain. French authorities need to send "electoral material" to 42 million voters. This material will be a copy of the EU constitution and the question to be put to the people, according to Le Figaro. The earliest date these documents can be prepared and sent is May 15, ruling out a vote on Europe Day. The vote will cost nearly €75 million ($100 million), according to Marc le Fur, budget rapporteur in the French interior ministry. The printing and delivery of the material alone will cost €40 million. (EUobserver.com)