In a speech to the European Parliament in Strasbourg, French President Nicolas Sarkozy said the French presidency hoped to find a solution to the EU treaty impasse following the Irish rejection of the Lisbon Treaty by the end of the year.
In an address before the European Parliament in Strasbourg Thursday, French President Nicolas Sarkozy said that Europe must unite in choosing “either Lisbon or Nice,” and that there would be no new constitutional treaty for Europe.
Referring to Ireland’s rejection of the Lisbon Treaty in a referendum last month, he noted that French voters had voted “no” to the Nice Treaty in 2005, and said, “France cannot judge Ireland.” He added, “We can’t rush Ireland. On the other hand, we don’t have a lot of time.” He said he would propose “a solution to the Irish problem” in October or December.
Sarkozy also addressed the matter of a unified policy regarding climate change, saying, “If we do this nation by nation, we have no chance.”
The theme of unity ran throughout his speech. He lamented for instance that “we have 27 EU nations, but only 23 Schengen nations,” a reference to the EU’s border control treaty.
He stressed the importance of a unified defence policy, saying, “If we make a collective policy on something, we have to defend it.”
Sarkozy also took a strong stance on immigration policy, saying, “It doesn’t make sense that an immigrant faces different policies in 27 different nations.” He said he would “remove all restrictions” on legal workers from one EU country working in other member nations. He characterized the current EU immigration debate as “one camp taking advantage of the misery of others, another taking advantage of the fear of others.”
Regarding agricultural policy, he recommended that Europe adopt a consistent position on common issues such as the importation of meat into the EU that does not meet EU standards. He did not discuss agricultural subsidies, a sensitive issue that has been a thorn in the side of many EU member states who oppose a unified agricultural policy.
Toward the end of his 30-minute speech he summarized, “Our debate must be carried on without fear of defending our convictions.”
His speech kicks off France’s six-month term in the rotating EU presidency, which began July 1.
Breaking baguettes with the Chinese
Sarkozy’s speech made no mention of his Wednesday announcement that he planned to attend the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympic Games, but the question repeatedly surfaced at the European Parliament Thursday.
During a question and answer session following the speech, Greens leader Daniel Cohn-Bendit rose from his seat and said, “You’re going to go eat baguettes with the president of China. Bon appétit. Here you have this chance to defend European democracy and instead you embrace this masquerade of the Communist Party. You will regret it later, when you write your memoirs.”
Sarkozy responded: “I don’t think that we can boycott one fourth of humanity. I want to go (to China) and talk about human rights.”
Some analysts have a more tempered interpretation of Sarkozy’s decision. In an interview with FRANCE 24, Jacek Saryusz-Wolski, head of the EU’s foreign affairs committee, said, “Sarkozy is both president of France and of the EU. He is attending the opening ceremonies in his capacity as the president of a sovereign nation, not as a representative of the EU.”
Date created : 2008-07-10