So have all the divergences between Paris and Berlin (which we discussed here) magically disappeared? Not quite. Here are some interesting quotes from Sarkozy's speech,
- France and Germany have "their institutions, their political culture and their idea of nation. One [Germany's] is federal, the other one [France's] is unitary. One needs to understand this difference. One needs to respect it."
- "France and Germany have chosen convergence...This doesn't mean that one is trailing behind the other, or that both want to give up their identities so that they confuse with each other."
- "Europe needs more democracy...A more democratic Europe is a Europe where it is the [national] political leaders who decide."
- "Europe’s re-foundation is not a march towards more supra-nationality."
- "The crisis pushed heads of state and government to take on growing responsibilities, because, at the end of the day, they were the ones who had the democratic legitimacy that allowed them to decide."
- "European integration will go the inter-governmental way because Europe will have to make strategic choices, political choices."
As we said, Sarkozy didn't go into too much detail on specific proposals to strengthen economic governance in the eurozone. However, he did give a couple of interesting indications about what he thinks should be done to sort out the crisis,
- "Every eurozone country must adopt a 'golden rule' enshrining the balanced budget target in its juridical order."
- "We need to decide to move without fear towards having more decisions taken by qualified majority" within the eurozone.
- "Let's examine our budgets jointly, let's establish quicker, tougher sanctions for those who don't live up to their commitments."
- "The ECB obviously has a decisive role to play. There is debate over what it is allowed to do under its statute. I don't want to weigh into that debate. The ECB is independent. It will stay independent. I'm convinced that...the ECB will act. It's up to the ECB to decide when and with what means."
Indeed, Sarkozy knows that if the plans are seen as an excessive abandonment of France's souveraineté, that would almost certainly be the last nail in the coffin for his chances of winning another mandate.