» Thursday, April 29, 2004

European Constitution

Asked for a reaction to Valery Giscard D’Estaing’s comment this morning that the UK would not be kicked out of Europe if there was a no vote in the referendum, the PMOS said that M. Giscard D’Estaing was a former chairman of the Convention on the Future of Europe which had now been disbanded. As we had underlined repeatedly, if the Treaty was agreed this summer, the Government would go into the referendum with the intention of winning. If there was a no vote, we would be entering into the unknown and it would therefore be unhelpful to speculate about how the issue might be taken forward.

Asked if the Prime Minister and M. Giscard D’Estaing had discussed in their meeting yesterday how the issue of the UK’s red lines might be resolved, the PMOS said that discussions concerning the Treaty were a matter for the European Presidency, currently held by Ireland. It was up to them to decide whether a deal was possible and if so, how it could be negotiated. Asked if the Prime Minister and M. Giscard D’Estaing had discussed the Treaty, the PMOS said it went without saying that that would have been one of the issues they would have talked about. However, it was important for people to recognise that the Irish Presidency was in the lead on this matter. Asked if the Prime Minister remained hopeful that a deal on the Constitution was achievable, the PMOS said that as we had made clear after the last EU Summit in March, we welcomed the fact that there seemed to be a new momentum in trying to reach a deal and we applauded the efforts of the Irish Presidency. That said, as both the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary had indicated, we were not taking the prospect of a deal for granted. Nevertheless, were it to be achieved, we would welcome it because we believed that the Treaty would be in the interests of Europe as a whole, as well as the UK.

Briefing took place at 11:00 | Search for related news

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