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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Sarkozy: don't believe the hype

Listening to Sarkozy talking to Parliament. Lashings and lashings of Franco-British history.

But despite the warm words, as soon as you move from the general to the particular things are going to be rather more difficult. For example:

- Sarkozy talks about Britain and France leading on the environment. But is he going to let Britain out of the EU's biofuels target, which the UK now seems to have turned decisively against?

- Sarkozy says he is "open" to CAP reform he means moving from higher subsidies towards higher tariffs. Thats the opposite of what the UK wants.

- When he says "there can't be 27 different immigration" policies he causes a sharp intake of breath in Downing Street. Will Brown really agree to a single EU-wide definition of asylum?

- Sarkozy wants to have a 60,000 strong common intervention force. But that can only divert resources away from the war in Afghanistan - the last thing Brown wants.

There are plenty of other rather tricky issues too. Have a look at our briefing note for the gory details. Nonetheless it will doubtless get gushing coverage on the TV news ce soir. As usual, the devil is in the detail, which is never reported.


J.M. said...

While it is true that Nicolas Sarkozy relies heavily upon the popular opinion of the public as well as the sway of current politics, perhaps his actions may be better understood when what is demanded of him is taken into consideration. As an elected official speaking and acting on behalf of what he feels the people require of him, his every decision can be viewed as a demonstration of the direction that French society is headed. By presently siding with the EU concerning biofuels, can it be speculated that the people desire a greater integrated status into the whole of Europe? With this in mind, an assumption can be made that the French are finally realizing that it is possible to embrace their history and unique heritage while also further developing into a multinational society at the same time.

Granted, Sarkozy is taking a strong stance beside the EU in regards to allowing the UK to be a target of the current biofuels dilemma; but as a country in line for the next presidency of the European Union, perhaps it is in France’s best interest to agree with the Union in this particular matter in order to be in a better position to push forward its own interests during the up and coming term in office.

With many personal agendas that he would like to see accomplished for his country, Sarkozy is doing what he can at present to buy time and gain popular support. Whether this is the reason why he is trying to be more agreeable than usual or because he sees a future French policy coming into effect throughout Europe, either way, his actions should continue to demonstrate the desires of the people.

Anonymous said...

After hundreds of years of conflicts, border disputes, and economic rivalries, blending the countries of Europe into a political union faces many challenges. Perhaps the greatest challenge to European integration stems from the different political cultures and political actions of the member states. This is definitely true of France and Britain.
Skarkozy can say as many warm words as he likes, but they are just that, words. The reality of working out these issues is much more complex. For example by siding with the EU on the issue of biofuels they will be better poised to farther their agenda when in office but it but them on the opposite side of the UK. The other issues such as immigration and tariffs will also cause issues between the countries.
Two powerful countries with as long a history of conflict as Britain and France do are doomed to face challenges when working as part of the EU. Hopefully these countries are able to work together even on issues which they are adversarial, striking a blow for unity of the EU.