France and Germany at Maastricht: Politics and Negotiations to Create the European Union

By Colette Mazzucelli | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VII

The Maastricht Debate and Ratification in France: The Power of Public Opinion and the Status of Sovereignty

Quite early, I had the instinct, which became a rule of conduct for me, that thought cannot be separated from action.

The greatest danger that Europe faces is the deterioration of the individual, who cannot include in his daily life, in his security, the means which progress would permit him to contribute. If he cannot make a contribution to his life, it is because the conditions in which we live, the conditions in which the countries of Europe live, prevent him from doing so.

Jean Monnet, Mémoires

On 11 March 1992 President Mitterrand submitted the Treaty on European Union (TEU) to the French Constitutional Council. Article 54 of the French Constitution obliged the Council to rule on the compatibility of the Treaty with the Constitution of 1958. The Council gave its opinion on 9 April 1992. This ruling opened both a constitutional debate and the next in a series of chapters on French national identity and the country’s role in Europe. This chapter initially examines the parliamentary revision of the Constitution and the referendum debate to authorize ratification of the Treaty on European Union.1 The power of public opinion regarding European integration, and the

1The French referendum of 20 September 1992 on the Treaty on European Union authorized the ratification of Maastricht. Article 52 of the Constitution of 1958 empowers the President of the Republic to ratify international treaties. A detailed discussion of the constitutional debate is found in Philippe Keraudren and Nicolas Dubois, “France and the Ratification of the Maastricht Treaty,” in The Ratification of the Maastricht Treaty: Issues, Debates and Future Implications, eds. Finn Laursen and Sophie Vanhoonacker (Dordrecht: Martinus Nijhoff, 1994), 147-153.

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