French President Jacques Chirac and visiting German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder presided over on Tuesday the 5th French-German cabinet meeting devoted to European constitution and bilateral industrial cooperation. (Xinhua/AFP Photo)
French President Jacques Chirac (L) hugs German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder before a conference at the Sorbonne university in Paris. The two leaders spoke about France's upcoming referendum on the European Union constitution.(Xinhua/AFP Photo)
PARIS, April 26 (Xinhuanet) -- French President Jacques
Chirac and visiting German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder presided over on
Tuesday the 5th French-German cabinet meeting devoted to European constitution
and bilateral industrial cooperation.
In a joint statement approved by the cabinet meeting and released by the French presidential Elysee palace,
France and Germany reaffirmed "their belief that when the constitutional treaty
comes into effect, it will be an important step in terms of asserting
Europe's weight in the international arena and reinforcing its ability to act
for peace and security in the world."
"Our two countries are pleased that, for the first
time in the history of the European Union, the community of fate between the
member states will be embodied in a constitution," the statement said.
The constitution will help reinforce "the sphere of
activity ofEuropean defense through the expansion of the scope of the
Union'smissions," it said.
The statement came one month ahead of a crucial May
29 referendum in France on the EU constitution, while some 20 recent surveys all
showed that the majority of French voters would rejectthe European
constitutional treaty, which must be approved by all the 25 EU member states.
During the joint news conference after the cabinet
meeting, Chirac called on French to vote "yes" at the May 29 referendum over the
EU constitution, saying it "will allow France to be stronger in Europe and will
strengthen Europe's position in the world."
He warned that if the French "no" camp wins the
referendum, France would take "responsibility for interrupting 50 years of
European construction ... France will find itself on the platform while the
train passes us by if the 'no' camp triumphs."
Schroeder also pled for the yes to the referendum,
saying that France, being the "berceau" of the European idea, "should remain
loyal to its promises."
"In both the political and economic arenas, Europe's
voice would lose strength, it would have trouble making itself heard, itwould be
weaker," Schroeder said.
"I remain confident, I think that in France and
Germany, the 'yes' will win out ... as far as I'm concerned, it's not just a
question of reasoning but a question of heart," he added.
In a speech later in the day at the Sorbonne
University, Schroeder said: "If Europe wants to make itself heard
internationally, we need the European Constitution."
The meeting, attended by some 20 French and German
ministers, also focused on industrial cooperation.
The ministers adopted four pilot projects -- two on
biomedical research, and two others on information technology -- that will bring
together business consortiums and research laboratories fromthe two states.
"With the emergence of major players like China and
India, withthe United States and Japan moving forward more than ever, what's at
stake is technological supremacy in this world," Schroeder said.
Europe must "go on the offensive and make a massive
commitment to innovation," Chirac said at the Sorbonne.
They also discussed at the meeting the EU's 2007-2013 budget and the liberalization of the EU services sector. Enditem