17th Oct 2019

France wants post-EU presidency financial summit

  • Mr Sarkozy - known for having a high-octane personality, is to chair another major international meeting (Photo: The Council of the European Union)

France has unveiled plans for a post-French EU presidency financial summit, despite the Czech Republic's sensitivity over its upcoming chairmanship of the EU.

The Elysee Palace on Tuesday (18 November) formally announced an "international summit" to be held in Paris on 8 January, entitled "New World: Values, Development and Regulation," continuing France's ambition to create a "new model" for capitalism in the wake of the global financial crisis.

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The meeting is to bring together international leaders as well as intellectuals such as economist Joseph Stiglitz and philosopher Francis Fukuyama and will be co-chaired by French President Nicolas Sarkozy and former British PM Tony Blair.

The move comes after a G20 summit in Washington last weekend fell short of EU hopes to tighten global financial regulation.

The new Paris meeting is the latest in a long line of high-powered events organised by France since it took over the EU helm in July. An EU presidency normally hosts two EU summits, but Mr Sarkozy has already added one extraordinary Georgia war summit, one special financial crisis summit, a eurozone summit and a G4 financial summit.

French officials in October proposed that the eurozone should form an "economic government" led by Mr Sarkozy after the French EU presidency expires in December in order to maintain the "impetus, the energy" of the Elysee Palace's efforts.

Mr Sarkozy and Mr Blair have also been floated as candidates for the Lisbon treaty-envisaged job of permanent EU president.

But the Czech Republic has resented any suggestions that a small, new EU state cannot lead the bloc in times of crisis.

Prague has also rejected MEPs' accusations that it will be a lame duck presidency because it is split over ratification of the Lisbon treaty and because the ruling ODS party suffered defeats in local elections last month.

"Nobody can take the presidency away from the Czech Republic," Czech deputy prime minister Alexandr Vondra said in October on the eurozone government idea.

Prague also plans to hold two extraordinary summits during its EU chairmanship, one on the Eastern Partnership of deeper integration with the EU's post-Soviet neighbours and one to greet new US President Barack Obama.

French public policies minister Eric Besson toned down the language of the French president's original statement on the 8 January event when talking to the Associated Press on Tuesday.

The meeting will be a "conference" not a summit, he said. "It's not an operational and decision-making colloquium."

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