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Monday, 4 December, 2000, 12:06 GMT
France: Agenda too far removed?
Parisian shoppers indifferent to Nice Summit
Parisian shoppers indifferent to Nice Summit
By BBC World at One reporter Branwen Jeffreys

It is market day at Daumesnil in the French capital. Ask shoppers for a view of the summit at Nice and most will dismiss it with a shrug as being too far removed from ordinary life.

The deputy director of the Centre for International Studies and Research, Christian Lequesne, says the problem at Nice is a lack of a simple issue.

Where politicians have succeeded before is linking institutional reform to another issue such as the single currency.

But there is a very vivid debate happening in the French corridors of power that cuts across party loyalties.

Little appetite

Some politicians are beginning to look beyond Nice and suggest more controversial ideas such as a European constitution.

At a last-minute meeting before the Nice summit, the Minister for European Affairs Pierre Muscovici briefed members of the French parliament.

He set out one of the priorities of the French presidency of the European Union. Europe, he tells the deputies, has to meet the everyday concerns of its voters.


We want a Europe at the service of its citizens

Pierre Muscovici

But in a recent interview, Pierre Muscovici also admitted that there is little appetite in France for a further transfer of sovereignty to Europe.

If recent elections are any indication, voters are either disinterested or disaffected. There is a falling turnout for European elections in France.

In search of some young voters who've followed the debate I turn to a Parisian institution, the Ecole Nationale d'Administration (ENA).

It's world famous as a hothouse for French politican talent - both Jacques Chirac and Lionel Jospin are graduates.

At ENA I find Matthieu Louvot, Muriel Lacoue-Labarthe and Roland Husson.

They are in the minority of voters who've followed the debates leading up to the Nice summit.

But what they want to hear from politicians is more about how Europe might look in the future and less about the detail of reforming EU institutions.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Branwen Jeffreys
reports from France on the gap between voters and politicans
Christian Lequesne
says the Nice summit is blighted by the lack of a simple issue
ENA students
explain their views

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