Vol. 3, Issue 14, June 7, 2005
French Vote to One-Up the Dutch, Leave Europe Altogether
In a surprise referendum held on Sunday, France voted to go even further in its rejection of the EU and leave continental Europe altogether.
"The Dutch stole our thunder," fumed French president Jacques Chirac. "There is only room for one country to take a principled stand against the EU constitution, and that country is us. It was necessary to take this to the next level."
On May 29, French voters sent shockwaves throughout the European Union when they rejected the proposed EU charter. The results were considered a serious blow to the nascent EU, especially given the central role that France has played in the development of European unity in recent years. When the Netherlands also voted down the charter, however, public interest in France as a "national rebel" waned.
"The Dutch rejected the EU charter because of ethical concerns," said political science professor Harvey Auster, of Cambridge University. "The Netherlands are famously liberal on social issues ranging from euthanasia to homosexuality, and the Dutch felt that a European "super-state" might curtail their legacy of socially progressive policies. The French, on the other hand, were mostly concerned about unemployment rates. I mean, that's rather a selfish tack, don't you think?"
The new referendum calls for France to withdraw entirely from Europe by 2007. Although the exact logistics have not yet been specified, the ballot stated that France would "depart from the contiguous confines of the European continent" by whatever method is deemed most efficient.
"We are thinking that probably we will dig a canal along the Eastern border and then detonate explosive charges to shake loose from the Pyrenees," said Chirac. "I'm not sure how far we'd need to go in order to make our point. At least far enough so England can't reach us with that dratted Chunnel."
Reaction among other EU countries has been mixed. Belgium, which is where the massive EU headquarters are located, is furious and has formally proposed expunging France from its central position in European history and culture. In particular, Belgium is officially "taking over" cultural ownership of the French language; from now on EU members are required to refer to France as a Belgian-speaking country instead of vice-versa.
Germany, on the other hand, seems somewhat conflicted about France's departure.
"There are so many good memories there," said German chancellor Gerhard Schroder wistfully. "The Franco-Prussian War, the delightful folly of the Maginot line: yes, Germany will miss France, I think."
President Bush, who has often been at odds with France in recent years, issued a surprisingly supportive statement.
"The French have given the world so much: their toast, their doors, even their kisses," said Bush. "And that French's mustard is pretty tasty stuff too. Mmm... mustard."
EU applicant Turkey, whose prospective membership was also an issue in the French referendum, was also surprisingly supportive.
"We fully support France in its decision, and want the EU to know that Turkey will stand behind it in this difficult and challenging time," said Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. "Now can we come in?"