18th Mar 2018

Sarkozy claims 'competition' victory at summit

  • Nicolas Sarkozy is in favour of a European industry policy (Photo: EUobserver)

French president Nicolas Sarkozy has claimed that changes to the bloc's forthcoming treaty that he pushed through are going to have significant implications for the EU's free market policy.

Speaking at an air show in Le Bourget over the weekend, the French president said it meant the "end of competition as an ideology and a dogma" in Europe.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

He was referring to fact that EU leaders agreed to his demand that the new Reform Treaty should not have "free and undistorted" competition as one of its objectives.

This means that while "full employment and social progress" remain as key objectives, free competition has been put into a separate protocol.

Directly after the summit, whose marathon negotiations ran until 5am on Saturday morning, Mr Sarkozy said it was about giving the EU "some more humanity."

Touching on a key fear of more market-oriented countries - particularly eastern Europe states and the UK - the president said "it might...give a different jurisprudence to the Commission, [and] competition that will therefore favour the emergence of European champions."

The summit itself saw fierce speculation over whether the removal of these words from the principles would result in a different interpretation by the European Court of Justice when it examines EU competition cases.

Britain's outgoing Tony Blair came under strong pressure by the country's opposition Conservatives to secure separate wording to counter the possible effect of removing "undistorted competition" from the principles at the beginning of the treaty.

According to reports in the British media, Mr Blair's successor Gordon Brown also pressured him to get a separate text on the issue, phoning him up to three times during the summit.

Both Mr Blair and German EU presidency officials argued that the legal basis for free competition remains as it is mentioned 13 times in EU treaties.

But Mr Sarkozy's statements at the summit and at Le Bourget, where he once again spoke of an EU industry policy and of promoting European industrial champions such as Airbus, have sparked unease in the European Commission.

Competition commissioner Neelie Kroes released a statement shortly after the summit in defence of strong competition policy.

"The Commission will continue to enforce Europe's competition rules firmly and fairly: to bust cartels and monopolies, to vet mergers, to control state subsidies," said the statement.

Speaking of the new protocol, it continued: "It re-confirms the European Commission's duties as the independent competition enforcement authority for Europe."

The protectionism versus free market debate was thrown into sharp relief when French voters rejected the original draft EU constitution in 2005. According to subsequent analysis, fear of globalisation and that the new treaty contained too many Anglo-Saxon overtones played a large part in the "no" vote.

Merkel in Paris for eurozone reform talks

Angela Merkel - who started her fourth term as Germany's chancellor earlier this week - is wasting no time on big issues like eurozone reforms. On Friday she is meeting Emmanuel Macron where the two will seek common ground.

EU insists on US tariffs exemption

Europe is "an ally, not a threat", the EU Commission says - as the US is poised to impose duties in steel and aluminium. Common action on Chinese steel overcapacity could help diffuse the crisis.

Trump starts countdown to EU trade war

EU sales of steel to US to face 25 percent tariff from 23 March, with Europe to hit back on motorbikes and bourbon in looming trade war.

VW dismisses complaints on Dieselgate fix

'I think customers who want to get information (...) are able to receive information if they want," VW management board member Hiltrud Werner told EUobserver. Consumer groups disagree.

News in Brief

  1. Sweden emerges as possible US-North Korean summit host
  2. Google accused of paying academics backing its policies
  3. New interior minister: 'Islam doesn't belong to Germany'
  4. Hamburg 'dieselgate' driver wins case to get new VW car
  5. Slovak deputy PM asked to form new government
  6. US, Germany, France condemn 'assault on UK sovereignty'
  7. MEPs accept Amsterdam as seat for EU medicines agency
  8. Auditors: EU farm 'simplification' made subsidies more complex

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceConmtroversial Turkish Azerbaijani Gas Pipeline Gets Major EU Loan
  2. World VisionSyria’s Children ‘At Risk of Never Fully Recovering', New Study Finds
  3. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMeets with US Congress Member to Denounce Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  4. Martens CentreEuropean Defence Union: Time to Aim High?
  5. UNESDAWatch UNESDA’s President Toast Its 60th Anniversary Year
  6. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Condemns MEP Ana Gomes’s Anti-Semitic Remark, Calls for Disciplinary Action
  7. EPSUEU Commissioners Deny 9.8 Million Workers Legal Minimum Standards on Information Rights
  8. ACCAAppropriate Risk Management is Crucial for Effective Strategic Leadership
  9. EPSUWill the Circular Economy be an Economy With no Workers?
  10. European Jewish CongressThe 2018 European Medal of Tolerance Goes to Prince Albert II of Monaco
  11. FiscalNoteGlobal Policy Trends: What to Watch in 2018
  12. Human Rights and Democracy NetworkPromoting Human Rights and Democracy in the Next Eu Multiannual Financial Framework

Latest News

  1. Brexit and trade will top This WEEK
  2. Dutch MPs in plan to shut EU website on Russian propaganda
  3. Four years on – but we will not forget illegally-occupied Crimea
  4. Evacuated women from Libya arrive newly-pregnant
  5. Merkel in Paris for eurozone reform talks
  6. Commission rejects ombudsman criticism over Barroso case
  7. Western allies back UK amid Russian media blitz
  8. Meet the European Parliament's twittersphere