• Sarkozy (left) and Brown (right) (Photo: The Council of the European Union)

'Sarkozy is one of my best friends,' says Brown

11.12.09 @ 12:25

  1. By Andrew Willis

BRUSSELS - French President Nicolas Sarkozy and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown stepped up their media charm offensive on Friday morning (11 December), as part of ongoing efforts to bury their recent differences.

Announcing their intentions to work together is securing an ambitious EU agreement on ‘fast-start' climate funding (2010-2012) for developing countries and EU emission cuts, the two leaders went out of their way to show all was well between London and Paris.

"It is a very strong relationship and one that is working today as we examine climate change," said Mr Brown in a joint press conference with the French leader.

The day before France announced it would follow the UK's lead and implement a one-off 50 percent windfall tax for French bankers receiving bonuses of over €27,000.

The intense efforts to show a united front follow two weeks of bickering between the two sides, largely prompted by Mr Sarkozy trumpeting his own success in securing a top economic portfolio for France in the European Commission, despite British resistance.

Seeking to banish the public quarrels to the distant past, Mr Brown surprised journalists by stating: "Nicolas Sarkozy is one of my best friends and we work very closely together on all the major issue."

For his part, Mr Sarkozy praised Mr Brown's efforts is securing the implementation of the EU's new rulebook – the Lisbon Treaty – which came into force on the 1 December.

"We would not have achieved the Lisbon treaty without the leadership of Gordon Brown," said the French president, also pointing to Mr Brown's substantial contribution to efforts in tackling the financial crisis.

The British Prime Minister disappointed many in the UK by not holding a referendum on the EU document, with parliament ratifying it instead, as in most EU countries.

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