Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

MEDIAWATCH

Confusion online over Air Algérie flight

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - July 25th, 2014 (part 2)

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - July 25th, 2014

Read more

REPORTERS

Halal tourism on the rise

Read more

ENCORE!

Tunisia's Carthage International Festival turns 50

Read more

FRANCE IN FOCUS

WWI Centenary: the battle for Verdun

Read more

THE BUSINESS INTERVIEW

When big companies want to do good

Read more

FOCUS

Many Turks angry over Syrian refugee situation

Read more

ENCORE!

Shakespeare’s 450th Birthday : The Best of the Bard

Read more

  • In pictures: Debris and devastation at Air Algérie Flight AH5017 crash scene

    Read more

  • ‘No survivors’ from Algerian plane crash, says Hollande

    Read more

  • Paris bans new Gaza protest scheduled for Saturday

    Read more

  • Lithuania’s Navardauskas wins 19th stage of Tour de France

    Read more

  • French families grieve for Algerian plane crash victims

    Read more

  • Protest against Gaza offensive turns deadly in West Bank

    Read more

  • LA Times wipes France off the map in air crash infographic

    Read more

  • Tour de France fans bring the ambience to the Pyrenees

    Read more

  • Halal tourism on the rise

    Read more

  • French lawyer files complaint against Israel at ICC

    Read more

  • Ukraine names acting PM after Yatseniuk's shock resignation

    Read more

  • BNP to pay $80 million for defrauding Dept of Agriculture

    Read more

  • Deadly strike on UN shelter in Gaza Strip

    Read more

  • Wreckage of Algeria plane found in Mali

    Read more

  • Pope meets Christian woman sentenced to death in Sudan

    Read more

Europe

Sarkozy and Cameron ties questioned after euro row

Text by Joseph BAMAT

Latest update : 2011-12-12

As Nicolas Sarkozy and Angela Merkel work closely to overcome the eurozone crisis, France and the UK’s leaders seem increasingly at odds. But there may be more to the recent cross-channel bickering than differences over the euro.

France and the United Kingdom were at odds on Thursday evening after British Prime Minister David Cameron opted out of a new EU treaty championed by France’s Nicolas Sarkozy. The conflicting stances presented by the two leaders in Brussels followed a reportedly contentious disagreement behind closed doors, fuelling speculation that the euro has poisoned ties between the two men.

“I was told it was a rather intense showdown between Cameron and Sarkozy, but I have not seen any leaks on what was actually said,” Christophe Robeet, France 24 European Affairs Editor, said of the spat. “We have a good idea of what the exchange was probably about. Cameron came to Brussels with demands and Sarkozy and Merkel said 'No way'. It was not cordial.”

In front of the press, Cameron said the new treaty, meant to impose stricter fiscal discipline on EU member states, went against UK interests. More than ever, the widening gap between London and Paris stood in contrast with the political consensus on display between Paris and Berlin.

Once triumphant allies during the Libyan war, Cameron and Sarkozy have clashed twice in the last six weeks. On October 23, the two leaders butted heads on the sidelines of an EU summit, with Sarkozy reportedly telling Cameron to stop meddling in eurozone affairs, according to the British press.

“It’s really the euro that has spoiled their relationship. They used to get on very well,” Robeet said from the EU summit in Brussels. “There is a lot of irritation. Sarkozy is telling Cameron 'Don’t interfere with us and don’t make us look weak'. That’s the bottom line.”

According to observers on both sides of the English Channel, however, Britain’s decision not to enter a new EU treaty was highly predictable -- especially to Cameron and Sarkozy, who met in Paris one week ago precisely to discuss the summit.

Some of the animosity exhibited between the two leaders in Brussels, observers say, could actually be working to each other's advantage in thier respective homelands.

Convenient foes?

According to the French daily Le Figaro, Cameron remains grateful to Sarkozy for lending him a helicopter last year to fly to the bedside of his dying father. Their relationship has since been bolstered by the military victory in Libya and diplomatic solidarity over Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

“Claims of a breakdown in the relationship between Sarkozy and Cameron are exaggerated,” said Benoit Gomis, an expert in cross-Channel diplomacy at the Chatham House research centre in London. “The military cooperation treaty signed in November 2010 was driven to a great extent by the personal relationship between the two men, and it’s this relationship that has since sustained the treaty.”

Writing in the Nouvel Observateur weekly, French journalist Bruno Roger-Petit has also questioned the apparent chill in the Franco-British partnership. For him, Sarkozy’s entourage has encouraged rumours about the clash in order to boost the president’s standing among French voters.

Sarkozy, who is hoping to win re-election in May, needs an external enemy to display his leadership qualities, according to Roger-Petit. “Germanophobia is forbidden, but visibly, Anglophobia, if we can use this term, is now the trend,” the journalist wrote on Friday.

Chatham House’s Gomis agreed that Sarkozy and Cameron’s public disagreement over the EU has helped their respective images at home. “Adopting this position, as the leader who saves the euro despite British opposition, is very interesting for Sarkozy ahead of elections,” Gomis said.

In October, Cameron suffered the largest rebellion of his premiership when 79 Conservative Party lawmakers voted in favour of a referendum on Britain's relationship with Europe. “Cameron is now seen as someone who sticks to promises. He said there would be no more transfer of power [from London] to Brussels, and he has stuck to his guns,” added Gomis.

Date created : 2011-12-09

  • EUROPEAN UNION

    Eurozone to forge ahead as UK blocks EU treaty change

    Read more

  • LIBYA

    Sarkozy, Cameron cheered in Benghazi, NTC troops in Sirte

    Read more

  • UK

    Sarkozy 'sick' of Cameron interference in euro crisis

    Read more

COMMENT(S)