11th Aug 2022

Sarkozy wants freeze on enlargement and slimmer EU charter

French interior minister, Nicolas Sarkozy, has launched his campaign to become the next president of France by calling for a freeze on further EU enlargement, while proposing a short version of the EU constitution.

In a new year's address on Thursday (12 January), attended by 500 journalists, he said the first part of the proposed EU constitution should be revived.

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This part, setting out European decision-making procedures, could be adopted by members of the French parliament, without a new consultation of French voters in a referendum.

A majority of French people rejected the EU constitution in a referendum in June 2005.

"Departing from the initial text of the European constitution, we should establish a shorter text, based on the first part of the treaty and with the only aim to organise the functioning of the EU 25," he said.

EU enlargement should be put on hold until the bloc has agreed a watered down version of the constitution, he added.

But negotiations with Romania and Bulgaria had progressed so far that it would be inappropriate to stop them.

The larger EU nations, such as France, Germany, the UK, Spain, Italy and Poland should form a "strategic partnership" and play a genuine role as the engine of the EU, he said.

Nicolas Sarkozy, who is also president of France’s ruling UMP party, indicated he would reduce the prime minister's role to that of governmental co-ordinator, if elected president of France.

"Rather than a president who presides, we need a president who leads. The future president will surely be different from the previous ones," Mr Sarkozy said.

He also called for a reform of the French immigration system, increasing the number of deportations of illegal immigrants to 25,000 next year.

The French presidential elections are due in May 2007.

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