ONLY French citizens will vote in the country's Sept. 20
referendum on European union, but the impact the French campaign is
having in neighboring countries and the attention it commands show
just how intertwined the Europe of the European Community has
Like Denmark's June vote against the EC's Maastricht Treaty for
deeper economic and political integration, this month's French vote
is already sending waves through an increasingly doubtful Europe.
In Britain, Prime Minister John Major faces sharp criticism from
within his own Conservative Party ranks, as some members of
Parliament use the surprisingly strong campaign against the
Maastricht Treaty in France to demand a referendum in Britain.
Mr. Major, who supports the treaty, rejects a British referendum
on the grounds that parliamentary ratification - the method chosen
by nine of the EC's 12 members - is sufficient. But critics say
that position leaves France looking more democratic than Britain, a
situation many Britons find intolerable.
In Germany, furor has quieted over the Germanophobic tone that
sprouted in the French referendum campaign early this month. But
France's focus on the consequences of the Maastricht Treaty has
helped keep alive German fears of lost economic stability under the
treaty's proposed monetary union, and of increased "borderless"
crime in an integrated Europe.
In Italy, where Prime Minister Giuliano Amato has pegged his
program for dealing with the country's economic crisis to the tough
fiscal requirements of Maastricht's monetary union, government
efforts to force Draconian economic measures through Parliament
have been stymied by a wait-and-see attitude toward the French
Throughout Europe, uncertainty over the outcome of the French
vote and concern over the impact a "no" vote would have on monetary
union plans have caused turbulence and depression in financial
markets, and are partly responsible for a recent spate of
"The French referendum is being watched as a reflection of where
Europe as a whole finds itself right now, and where it is headed,"
says Rudiger Stephan, a specialist in Franco-German affairs in
Like Dr. Stephan, supporters of Maastricht's ratification
throughout Europe are breathing easier this week with French
opinion polls showing a majority once again in favor of the treaty.
Most observers believe President Francois Mitterrand's
three-hour appearance on French television last week - discussing
the treaty with French citizens and noted journalists, and debating
a leader of the anti-Maastricht forces - went a long way toward
reassuring French voters about the treaty's consequences. Support
for Maastricht jumped more than 5 points in some polls - a return
to a "yes" majority in several cases - after the presidential
Yet it comes as a surprise to many Europeans that 40 percent or
more of the French who have decided still say they will vote no. In
addition, more than a quarter remain undecided. France has long
been considered among the most pro-Europe of EC countries. …