Monday

17th Jun 2019

Sarkozy warns against early commission chief decision

French President Nicolas Sarkozy on Friday (20 March) said that choosing a new commission president in June would undo his good work on Lisbon treaty ratification, while defending France from fresh accusations of economic nationalism.

"If in June a legislative decision is taken, it will be based on the treaty of Nice," Mr Sarkozy told journalists after a meeting of EU leaders in Brussels, amid expectations that Ireland will not hold a second referendum on the Lisbon treaty before the EU elections in June.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

The current Nice treaty on which the EU is based foresees a reduction in the number of commissioners in the composition of the next commission. But if the Lisbon treaty is eventually agreed, the number of commissioners remains the same, following a political agreement by EU leaders last year.

"If we do [elect the next president] based on Nice, we will need to say who will not have a commissioner," the French president said. "It will then be a very interesting debate that I am looking forward to. That will help us a lot in Ireland," he added ironically.

"We can say that we take the post away from them [Ireland] for example. That will help a lot, I will personally be very happy after all the efforts I've done to unblock the situation."

EU leaders agreed during their last meeting in December that the next commission president would be chosen at the June EU summit, a few weeks after the European Parliament elections.

Agreeing the commission chief later in the year is set to delay the appointment of the whole of the new commission, which is supposed to come into office at the beginning of November.

Mr Sarkozy gave a clearer backing for current commission president Jose Manuel Barroso to keep the post than he had done earlier this month.

"I have always enjoyed working with Mr Barroso ...I have very positive and warm feelings [towards him]," the French president said. "I would not be embarrassed to support him, on the contrary."

Speaking to press on Friday, Irish premier Brian Cowen said he was also in favour of "a second term for the [current] president of the European commission."

"I would like a decision on that to be taken as soon as possible after the European elections," he added.

On Thursday, a gathering of the centre-right European People's Party (EPP), home to both German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Mr Sarkozy's political parties, agreed to back the Portuguese politician.

The UK's centre-left premier Gordon Brown and Spain's socialist prime minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero have also in the past expressed support for Mr Barroso. And Mr Barroso has himself on several occasions indicated his interest for a second mandate.

France does not 'steal' jobs

During his press conference, the French leader rejected accusations that French carmaker Renault is planning to cut jobs in Slovenia in order to create new ones in France.

Earlier on Friday, French Industry Minister Luc Chatel told Europe 1 radio that: "Renault will ...repatriate the production of a vehicle up to now made outside France to the Flins plant. That will be extra output for that factory."

The move "highly surprised" EU competition commissioner Neelie Kroes. "If this is the case, it is illegal aid," she told the BBC.

But Mr Sarkozy explained Renault would in fact be creating new jobs in France, not closing factories in Slovenia.

"If you consider that any job created in France is a result of nationalism or protectionism, very well," he said in response to a question from a Czech journalist.

"It is not because we are one of Europe's biggest countries that one should consider that a factory [open] on our territory is a theft from the others. Be reasonable ...You, Czech Republic, you also have countries around you that are less rich. When you create a job, do you steal it from Slovakia next door?"

New 'ID' far-right EU parliament group falls short

The new far-right Identity and Democracy (ID) political group fails to muster enough support among other eurosceptics to become a heavyweight in the European Parliament. But with 73 MEPs, from nine EU states, it managed to secure the fifth spot.

Malta's ex-commissioner loses court case against EU

John Dalli was ousted as European Commissioner for health in 2012 over a tobacco-lobbying scandal. On Thursday, the general court of the European Union dismissed his case against the European Commission.

Analysis

Sibiu: EU leaders prepare post-Brexit show of unity

With the European elections just three weeks away, the EU-27 will try to set the agenda for the next years for the EU institutions. But with persisting divisions on key issues, unity will be an achievement in itself.

Exclusive

Ombudsman backs EUobserver on MEP expenses

The European Parliament should have granted access to documents on a decision about how transparent MEPs should be in future with their office expenses, says EU Ombudsman.

EU want Facebook pan-EU advert fix for May elections

EU institutions want Facebook to relax its rules, to allow pan-European political groups to carry out EU-wide campaigns. Facebook has yet to implement the demands - posing questions on the extent to which Europe relies on the US tech firm.

Magazine

The changing of the guards in the EU in 2019

The four most powerful EU institutions - Commission, Parliament, Council and Central Bank will all have new leaders in the coming ten months. Here is an overview.

Magazine

Explained: What is the European Parliament?

While domestic political parties often use the European Parliament as a dumping ground for unwanted politicians - and a majority of citizens don't bother to vote - the parliament, over the years, has become a dominant force in the EU.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  3. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  5. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  6. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  7. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  8. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  9. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody

Latest News

  1. Erdogan mocks Macron amid EU sanctions threat
  2. The most dangerous pesticide you've never heard of
  3. 'Russian sources' targeted EU elections with disinformation
  4. Top EU jobs summit dominates This WEEK
  5. EP parties planning 'coalition agenda' ahead of jobs summit
  6. MEP blasts Portugal over football whistleblower
  7. Catalonia MEPs are a judicial, not political, issue
  8. Meet the lawyer taking the EU migration policy to the ICC

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  2. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  4. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  5. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID
  10. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership
  11. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson
  12. Platform for Peace and JusticeTurkey suffering from the lack of the rule of law

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us