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The BBC's Jonathan Beale
"Jospin wants to see a Europe of independant nations"
 real 56k

Monday, 28 May, 2001, 19:08 GMT 20:08 UK
Analysis: Seeking a co-operative Europe
French Prime Minister Lionel Jospin
The EU should be a balanced society, says Mr Jospin
By European affairs correspondent William Horsley

The French Prime Minister, Lionel Jospin, has outlined his vision of a stronger European Union which would be a model of a balanced and democratic society.


There is such a thing as a European 'art de vivre', a specific way of doing things, of defending freedoms, of fighting inequality and discrimination, of organising and handling labour relations, of ensuring access to education and health care, a European pace

Lionel Jospin
The long-awaited speech in Paris is the latest in a series of contributions by European leaders to a debate about the EU's purpose and internal organisation which is due to come to a head in 2004.

Mr Jospin flatly rejected the recent proposal from Germany for a so-called federation of European states.

Mr Jospin's speech was very ambitious and strongly coloured by his own socialist beliefs.

But it showed clearly that France wants the EU to evolve on the basis of co-operation among its constituent member states, and not of a merger of states that could turn the union into a single federation.

'No federation'

He said the vision of a European federation put forward recently by Germany's Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder was inspired by that country's own political traditions.

France, like other European nations, could not accept such a concept, in which actual states would have the status of the federal states in Germany or the United States, Mr Jospin said.

In view of France's political importance within the EU, and the well-known antipathy in Britain to the federation idea, this rejection may well prove decisive.

Harmonisation

However, Mr Jospin outlined proposals for much closer harmonisation of EU member-states' policies in every important field, in the name of what he called common European values.

French President Jacques Chirac
The speech is seen as the first step in the race for president against Jacques Chirac
He proposed a European economic government, with common rules across Europe for business taxes, protecting workers' and consumers' rights, and protecting European industries from the negative effects of globalisation.

His vision includes a Europe-wide police force to protect the EU's outer borders, a harmonised judicial system with cross-border powers and health care standards, and a strengthened common foreign and defence policy.

Presidential campaign

This is seen as an opening shot in Mr Jospin's bid to win France's presidential election race next year, against the incumbent, President Jacques Chirac, who represents a more clearly pro-business stance on the centre-right of the political spectrum.

Mr Jospin's speech also represented a determined challenge to United States dominance in industry, world trade and politics.

He said Europe must make its views clear on America's controversial missile defence scheme, and take a lead in protecting the world environment since he said the US seemed to have abandoned its responsibility.

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See also:

28 May 01 | Europe
Jospin rejects federal EU plan
25 May 01 | Vote2001
Blair takes euro fight to Tories
18 May 01 | Europe
Schroeder's EU plans explained
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