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24th Feb 2024

Sarkozy vows to change Europe after EU elections success

French President Nicolas Sarkozy has said his party's victory in Sunday's European elections showed that French people wanted the EU to change and has said he would come up with initiatives in that respect "in the days to come."

In a communique published Monday (8 June) on the French president's website, Mr Sarkozy said that his centre-right UMP party's victory showed French people's "recognition for the work accomplished during the French presidency of the European Union [in the second half of last year] and their support for the efforts undertaken by the government to bring to an end an unprecedented global crisis".

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  • Mr Sarkozy says his party's score in the elections showed French people's support for the achievements of France's EU presidency last year (Photo: The Council of the European Union)

The UMP was a clear winner in the elections in France on Sunday, obtaining some 28 percent of the votes – way ahead of the main opposition party of the Socialists (16.5%), who came neck and neck with the French Greens (16.3%).

In the previous European elections in 2004, the UMP had come second (with 16.6% of the votes), far behind the Socialists (28.9%). At the 1999 elections, it had only come third, after the Socialists and the far-right list of Charles Pasqua and Philippe de Villiers.

But Sunday's elections also saw the lowest ever turnout at European elections in France, dropping from 42.8 percent in 2004 to 40.5 percent. The high level of abstention shows that "Europe does not mobilise enough and must evolve," sources close to Mr Sarkozy told Reuters.

"The President of the Republic knows the expectations of the French. This success at the European parliament elections requires us to go further," reads the Elysee communique.

"Europe must change. Reforms must continue."

It also says that Mr Sarkozy will "take initiatives in the coming days to open up new projects" and he will meet the leaders of all French parties represented in the European Parliament before the meeting of EU leaders in Brussels at the end of next week.

According to daily Le Figaro, he should make a television address in the course of this week and is expected to announce a government reshuffle "in the days or weeks to come."

Separately, Mr Sarkozy will also meet German chancellor Angela Merkel on Thursday in Paris in order to prepare the 18-19 June Brussels summit, which will mostly focus on tightening financial supervision and on discussions on climate change policies.

Ms Merkel's conservative CDU, together with its sister party CSU in Bavaria, also won the elections in her country, obtaining close to 38 percent of the votes, ahead of the Social Democrats on 21 percent.

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