Jospin rejects German Europe plan
PARIS, France -- French Prime Minister Lionel Jospin has rejected a German proposal for a more federal Europe.
In a keynote speech on Europe, delivered on Monday, Jospin said the central role of nation states as decision-makers in the 15-member bloc should remain.
German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder recently suggested that the European Union Council of Ministers would be turned into a chamber of the European Parliament -- a plan that Jospin described as unacceptable.
"France, like other European nations, could not accept such a statute nor such a concept of what a federation is," he said in a speech to the foreign press club in Paris.
"I am in favour of Europe but I remain attached to my nation," he said.
He backed the idea of a European "federation of nation states" originally put forward by fellow French Socialist and former European Commission chief Jacques Delors.
"Co-operation between governments still plays an important role and will remain indispensable," said Jospin.
"I do not separate France from Europe," Jospin said.
Jospin said the German vision of federation was "strongly inspired" by Germany's own political system and "would gain its legitimacy solely from the European Parliament."
"France, just like other European nations, cannot accept such a statute or such a concept of federation," he said.
'Economic government' needed
Schroeder proposed redefining the EU's powers, creating a stronger executive, an elected president, and a strengthened European Parliament.
President Jacques Chirac has suggested a European constitution for the EU and creation of a "pioneer group" for nations who want to move more quickly in the building of political Europe.
Jospin is expected to run against conservative Chirac in next year's presidential election.
Regarding the euro, Jospin said Europe should create an "economic government" with a fund to help euro zone economies if they get into difficulty.
"For two years, the euro has acted as a shield against international financial crises and competitive devaluations," he said.
"We now need an economic government for the euro zone."
"Let us create an economic action fund to which each country would have access and which could be used to support any country hit by world economic turmoil."
Jospin said unfair competition between national tax regimes was "unacceptable" and that harmonising corporate taxation would eventually be necessary.
A "European social treaty" was also necessary, with labour rules on layoffs, wage policy and the quality of employment, he said.
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