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In quotes: Europe reacts to French 'No'

European leaders are giving their reaction to the decisive French rejection of the proposed EU constitution in Sunday's referendum.

FRANCE

French President Jacques Chirac:

"You have rejected the European constitution by a majority. It is your sovereign decision and I take note of it.

"Nevertheless, our ambitions and interests are profoundly linked to Europe.

"But let's not be mistaken. The decision of France inevitably creates a difficult context for the defence of our interests in Europe."

President of the ruling UMP party, Nicolas Sarkozy (who campaigned for a "Yes" vote):

"By saying 'No', the French are calling on us to act quickly and vigorously to change the status quo.

"They are putting pressure on us to bring to an end the inertia and the nervousness... to move the country forward as fast as possible.

"We need to decide on a programme of action that is innovating, brave and ambitious. There has to be a major turnaround in our economic and social policy. There is no reason why this cannot happen."

French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier:

Rejection of treaty is "a real disappointment".

Leading French Eurosceptic Philippe de Villiers:

"We are this evening confronted with a major political crisis. Only the president can resolve it - in two ways, I leave him the choice. Either he resigns, given that he heavily involved himself in the campaign, or he dissolves the national assembly."

UK

UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw:

"This raises profound questions for all of us about the direction of Europe... What we want now is a period of reflection."

Foreign affairs spokesman for UK's opposition Conservative party Liam Fox:

"It sounds like the people of France have done a favour to all the rest of the people of Europe. They've decided that they want reform, they've decided that they want politicians to think again.

"They've shown that there's too big a gap now between the ruling classes in Europe and the citizens of Europe."

EUROPEAN UNION

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso:

"It's a very serious problem, we can't talk about business as usual... We must transform this difficult moment into an opportunity for Europe. We should try together to put Europe back on track."

European Commission Vice-President Guenter Verheugen:

(On prospects of the Netherlands backing the treaty in a referendum on Wednesday)

"To be honest, I am not especially hopeful. France has not sent an encouraging signal to the Netherlands."

Chairman of the right-wing EPP-ED group in the European Parliament, Hans-Gert Poettering:

"The European Union has managed already many crises and was almost always able to reach agreement in the end.

"We must hope now that a pragmatic management of the crisis will also lead to a solution in this case."

Leader of the Socialist group in the European Parliament Martin Schulz:

"The battle goes on. The ratification process must continue because all countries must have the opportunity to express their view."

LUXEMBOURG

European Union President and Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean Jean-Claude Juncker:

"It is a European debate. The ratification procedure must be pursued in other countries."

GERMANY

German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder:

"The referendum result is a blow for the constitutional process, but not the end of it.

"It is also not the end of the German-French partnership in and for Europe."

THE NETHERLANDS

Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende:

"There is all the more reason to say 'Yes' (in the Dutch referendum) so that some progress can be recorded with the constitutional treaty.

"The Netherlands has a lot to gain from this constitutional treaty. It is in the interest of Europe and of our own country."

SPAIN

Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero:

"The result of the referendum in France is not good news but it is not a catastrophe.

"The (constitutional) treaty has already been approved by nine countries, including Germany, Spain and Italy and should be submitted to a vote in the other members of the Union."

AUSTRIA

Austrian far-right politician Joerg Haider:

"The bureaucrats in Brussels have miscalculated... They have to find a consensus with the citizenry of Europe. This is an opportunity. I do not see it so tragically. There will be negotiations back and forth for a few months. I am convinced it will be possible to do something else, with a few adaptations."

ITALY

Former European Commission President and former Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi:

"If this is the result, I am extremely disappointed. One must reflect and pay attention to these signs of discomfort.

"But even taking this into account, one must forge ahead tenaciously with the European project."

IRELAND

Government statement:

"For our part, the government is continuing to prepare for ratification of the European constitution by the target date of November 2006."

DENMARK

Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen:

"I regret the French 'No'. But all 25 countries must be given the opportunity to give their opinion. This means we must let the Danish people give their opinion in a referendum on 27 September."

CZECH REPUBLIC

Czech Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek:

"I've already said before that I thought it was a mistake to expect all 25 states of the EU to ratify the constitution in a first round.

"For me, the French result is not a surprise, but it is regrettable how it happened."

SLOVENIA

Slovenian Foreign Minister Dimitrij Rupel:

"The EU project will advance at a slower pace, it will be difficult to talk about expansion. But inside the EU we will live as we did so far. This is not the end of the world."

ESTONIA

Prime Minister Andrus Ansip:

"I am not happy about it. The constitution is good for Estonia and good for Europe. If France has voted no it should not stop other European countries from ratifying the constitution."

LATVIA

Foreign Minister Artis Pabriks:

"I am convinced that we should stick to the idea of the constitution. We cannot turn back. It would be a disaster."

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See reaction to the French "No" vote from around Europe



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