Jacques Chirac wants E.U. to reach an agreement with Beijing

French President &to=http:// english.pravda.ru/region/2001/07/03/ ' target=_blank>Jacques Chirac is demanding the European Union and China move quickly to bridge differences over China's textile trade. Mr. Chirac's call came during a summit meeting with German and Polish leaders in France, aimed at pushing a yes vote on the European constitution.

President Chirac said an increase of &to=http:// english.pravda.ru/economics/ ' target=_blank>Chinese textile imports to Europe threatens the jobs of thousands of Europeans. He called for the European Union to reach a speedy agreement with Beijing to protect, what he described, as Europe's legitimate interests.

Unlike the United States, the European Union has no plans to introduce quotas on Chinese textiles, but France's Finance Minister Thierry Breton has suggested certain steps might be taken if no agreement is reached, reports VOA News.

According to the Telegraph, a bill paving the way for a referendum on the &to=http:// english.pravda.ru/world/2001/05/30/6331.html ' target=_blank>European Union constitution will be published next week despite growing confusion within the Government over whether one will ever be held.

Ministers continued to send out conflicting signals yesterday about whether the British people would be allowed to vote if the constitution was rejected in votes held in France and the Netherlands within two weeks.

Douglas Alexander, the Europe minister, yesterday backed away from his earlier statement to MPs that a referendum would be held regardless of what happens elsewhere in Europe.

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