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Branwen Jeffreys reports from France on the gap between voters and politicans
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Charles Lequesne deputy director CERI
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Students from ENA talk to Branwen Jeffreys
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Tuesday, 5 December, 2000, 12:27 GMT
Beyond a common market?
paris market
Parisian shoppers indifferent to Nice Summit
It's market day at Daumesnil in the French capital.

Fruit, cheeses and glistening mounds of fish are competing for the attentions of the formidable Parisian shoppers armed with small highly groomed dogs and shopping trolleys.

Ask them for a view of the summit at Nice and most will dismiss it with a shrug as being too far removed from ordinary life.

It's very difficult for people to understand, Christian Lequesne tells me.

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

Christian Lequesne
Christian Lequesne says the Nice summit is blighted by the 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.

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

Europe has to be relevant

At a last minute meeting the minister for European Affairs Pierre Muscovici briefs members of the french parliament.

He sets out one of the priorities of the French presidency of the European Union. Europe, he tells the deputes, 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 is world famous as a hothouse for french politican talent - both Jacques Chirac and Lionel Jospin are graduates.

We need big ideas

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

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