Hollande Says No to EU Referendum in France

France and European flags are seen at the National Assembly, where the French prime minister delivers a speech following Britain's referendum results last week to leave the European Union, in Paris, France, June 28, 2016. REUTERS/Jacky Naegelen

PARIS, June 30 – President Francois Hollande on Thursday ruled out organizing a referendum on the European Union in France, saying next year’s presidential election will be the opportunity for voters to decide on which European policy they want.

There have been growing calls in France for a referendum on the European Union since Britons voted to exit the EU a week ago.

Mainstream politicians, including Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron and the 2017 presidential election front-runner Alain Juppe, a center-right former prime minister, have called for a plebiscite on a new EU project. Only the far-right National Front is calling for a vote on EU membership.

“Why organise such a tumult and confrontation if it’s not to leave the EU? Lies, simplifications, excesses and even the violence we saw in the referendum campaign in Britain were not enough for those sorcerer’s apprentices?” Hollande told Les Echos daily, when asked whether there should be a referendum in France.

Many in France are increasingly disillusioned with Europe which they see as too pro-market and not protective enough, making the outcome of such a referendum hard to predict. In 2005, a proposed new EU constitution was blocked by referendums in France and the Netherlands.

Some 55 percent of French voters do not want a referendum on EU membership while 45 percent think it would be a good idea, a survey by Elabe pollsters showed on Wednesday.

The vote on Europe in France will be the presidential election, Hollande told Les Echos. “The British experience will then be an example – or rather a counter-example,” he said.

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