28th May 2022

Sarkozy under fire for 'indecent' spending during EU presidency

  • Some of the events chaired under Mr Sarkozy's EU presidency had huge bills (Photo: European Community, 2008)

French President Nicolas Sarkozy has come under fire for what his critics call "indecent" spending of an average €1 million a day during the six months he chaired the EU presidency.

A report on the accounts of the French EU presidency published by the Court of Auditors put the cat among the pigeons in the political establishment on Wednesday (28 October), with opposition figures bashing the "indecent" spending of €171 million over six months, meaning an average of €1 million a day.

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Among the extravagances was the EU-Mediterranean summit organised on 13 and 14 July 2008, which cost around €17 million and where leaders dined for €5,050 per person.

A shower for €276,000 was also installed temporarily in the Grand Palace in Paris, but the president never used it. It had massage and surround sound radio functions and was custom built for the 1.6 metre tall president, the UK's Daily Telegraph reported.

French socialist lawmaker Rene Dosiere, specialised in public expenditures, said the the decadent dinner cost "more than five times a normal meal" at a time when French "have to tighten their belt."

"The President has lost touch with reality," Mr Dosiere argued.

For his part, Frederic Lefebvre, a spokesman for the centre-right UMP party of Mr Sarkozy said the accusations were "dishonest" and simple "lies." "No meal cost more than €5,000 per person. And that includes the costs of refurbishing the place where the summit took place," he insisted.

As for the shower, Mr Lefebvre said in reality the cost was for the "refurbishing of eight rooms with toilets for the heads of state."

A spokesperson for the French government also stressed that the president "never showers in the Grand Palais. He takes his shower at the Elysee [palace] or at home."

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