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The BBC's Caroline Wyatt
"Mr Chirac stressed he did not want a European super-state"
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Jaques Reland, London Guildhall University
"The Franco-German engine is revving up again"
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Alan Donnelly, Former leader of Labour MEP's, UK
"It is extremely important that we have an intelligent debate now"
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Tuesday, 27 June, 2000, 15:39 GMT 16:39 UK
Chirac pushes two-speed Europe
President Chirac shaking hands
President Chirac wooing the crowds in Berlin
The French President, Jacques Chirac, has called for some European countries to press ahead with political and economic union ahead of the rest.

Speaking in the German parliament, Mr Chirac called for France and Germany to set a "pioneer group" of EU countries leading rapid European integration.



It is essential that countries who want to move quicker towards integration, on a voluntary basis and in precisely defined projects, can do so without being held back

President Chirac
Mr Chirac's speech is being seen as centrepiece of a state visit designed to rescue a relationship which has traditionally been the driving force of European integration.

He was the first foreign leader to make an address inside the renovated Reichstag parliament building.

"It is essential that countries who want to move quicker towards integration, on a voluntary basis and in precisely defined projects, can do so without being held back by those nations who, within their rights, do not want to advance so quickly," Mr Chirac said.

'No superstate'

The French leader said neither France nor Germany wanted a European super-state, and national sovereignty would remain dominant.


Neither you, nor I are considering the creation of a super European state which would replace our nation states and mark their demise as actors on the international scene

President Chirac
Mr Chirac conceded that it was necessary to make clear the type of union he proposed.

"To say that there are, on one hand those who defend national sovereignty and, on the other, those who sell it cheaply, is to distort the truth," Mr Chirac said.

"Neither you, nor I are considering the creation of a super European state which would replace our nation states and mark their demise as actors on the international scene."

Standing ovation

The president's speech was warmly received by the German parliament - he received a long standing ovation as he left the chamber.

French President Jacques Chirac
Chirac's speech echoed German thinking
BBC Berlin corespondent Caroline Wyatt says the vision he laid out of Europe's future echoes the current thinking of the German Government.

Nonetheless, despite this display of unity, many key differences remain between the two countries over the reform of the EU's institutions as it prepares to take in new members.

But the message today from Paris and Berlin is that, whatever the hurdles, both countries remain determined to push ahead with EU integration - a move which could leave countries such as Britain lagging behind on the side-lines.

Germany at the UN

The French president also called for a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council for Germany to reflect its increased global importance.


"Germany's engagement, its ranking as a great power, its international influence - France would like to see them recognised with a permanent seat on the Security Council," Mr Chirac said.

He praised Germany's decision to send troops to Kosovo last year - the first time its forces have been involved in combat since World War II.

The Security Council currently has five permanent members with veto power - the United States, Russia, China, Britain and France - and 10 rotating non-permanent members.

French poll

A poll released on Monday indicates that the French people are largely in tune with their president.

A poll in the Liberation newspaper shows that 70% of French men and women think the political and economic unification of the European Union should be sped up.

Four years ago, only 49% of the French population said it favoured an acceleration of the EU integration process.

However, only 35% think that Europe represents an economic and social model to be emulated.

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See also:

27 Jun 00 | Media reports
Chirac's Berlin speech
15 Feb 00 | Europe
EU enlargement: Second wave
13 May 00 | Europe
Storm over federal Europe call
09 Jun 00 | Europe
Franco-German alliance renewed
18 Oct 99 | Europe
Radical plan to reshape EU
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