25th Jun 2022

Sarkozy urges EU six to lead integration

Nicolas Sarkozy, a hot candidate to become the next French president, has suggested a way out of the current EU's institutional crisis would be through closer integration of the bloc's six biggest states, with others to decide whether to follow suit or not.

Speaking at a UMP party conference on Europe on Saturday (24 September), its leader said the Franco-German alliance should be opened to the other four big EU states, as it could no longer direct the union on its own.

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Britain, Italy, Spain and Poland should join Berlin and Paris, as a unit representing 75 percent of the EU's population and together "become the motor of the new Europe", said Mr Sarkozy, according to the Financial Times.

The group could then decide to proceed with integration in some areas that the other states could accept or not, without their refusal changing or delaying the decision.

"If we are able to develop this method we would answer - without institutional reform - two major defects of Europe as it exists today: Europe would act, and she would act under the impulse of responsible politicians, not anonymous bureaucrats", he said.

The EU is in stalemate over future integration after a rejection of the EU Constitution by France and the Netherlands earlier this year.

The document was supposed to help the bloc work more efficiently following last year's enlargement from 15 to 25 countries.

Stronger Europe to face globalisation

Mr Sarkozy, the interior minister in the current French government, indicated that a stronger Europe - led by the big six - would also be more effective in dealing with problems brought up by globalisation.

He pointed out Europe should "at the same time support globalisation, master it and protect itself from it", adding there is a need for creating "European champions" to compete with US, Chinese and Indian firms among others.

He criticised Brussels' performance in trade, suggesting the EU is not defending its interests sufficiently and far less strongly than Washington.

Mr Sarkozy also repeated his position concerning Turkey, suggesting it should become an EU partner, and not a member.

Nicolas Sarkozy is considered as the main contender along with current French prime minister Dominique de Villepin in the 2007 presidential elections.

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