Stanley's blog

Sarkozy the summiteer

Two EU summits plus third county summits are the norm for an EU presidency. So far, there have been two additional summits during the French presidency addressing the financial turmoil and one is scheduled for 7 November to prepare for the Washington G20 summit on 15 November.. These are in addition to the regular summits with ASEM, China, Russia, Brazil, Jordan and New Zealand not forgetting the Mediterranean one.

A dozen summits in six short months (August and December being vacation months) makes no sense for a part-time president who also has a country to run. But the hyperactive President of France takes it all in his stride, and adds numerous bilateral meetings and telephone discussions.

His performance in Strasburg on Tuesday 22 October before the European Parliament was brilliant. Speaking for 40 minutes without notes, clear, decisive, forceful, witty. In short, a charasmatic leader, but one sadly with a tendency to upset his peers and a failure to exercise the diplomatic niceties. He makes it more difficult for himself by failing to consult or even inform.

The EU sovereign fund was clearly a non-starter, as he would have known if he had checked. Personal relations with Merkel may be rock bottom but greater sensitivity might prevent Berlin’s negative reaction. He is right to push for EU economic governance. He is right that the Eurogroup should have an occasional summit. But don’t confuse things by pushing for both with him in the Presidency. The summit would reinforce, not replace, Juncker’s present role.

Sarkozy continues to provoke concerns: as to ECB independence, French industrial policy and protectionsm, unduly interventionalism and excessive regulation…

But there are several weeks to go.

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  1. you said:
    “He is right to push for EU economic governance.”

    But what is the Commission if not Economic Governance? And all actions of Sarkozy, have sidelined the Commission so far.

  2. I would argue that the timing of the French presidency of the European Council is serendipitious. As with the Blair presidency, Sarkozy’s presidency has coped by and large with the ongoing agenda and the multiple issues that have been added along the way.
    My concern is how will the Czech presidency cope? This recession has only just begun and I’m beginning to doubt that the climate change agreement will be concluded in time. I look forward to reading your thoughts on the coming transition.

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