“Something isn’t right” with the European Union, said French president Nicolas Sarkozy (photo), as France took over the rotaring presidency of the bloc from Slovenia.
Europe’s citizens were losing faith in the project, warned Mr Sarkozy on French TV.
France’s grandiose EU presidency plans are in doubt after the Irish Lisbon treaty No vote. And given Ireland’s rejection, Poland’s president, Lech Kaczynski, said it would be pointless for him to sign the treaty.
Poland’s president reportedly said it would be pointless for him to sign the treaty, given Ireland’s rejection.
He told Polish daily newspaper Dziennik that even though the document has been ratified by Poland’s parliament, he would not approve it, reported AFP news agency.
For its six month at the helm of the EU, France has set out ambitious plans concerning immigration, the environment, agriculture and defence.
His priority would be to get all the other EU states to approve the treaty, and then, see what could be done, because the treaty can’t come into effect until it has been approved by all 27 member states.
EU’s institutional shape
Horst Koehler, German president, is also delaying the ratification of the treaty. He said to sign the treaty, he would wait until after the country’s highest court had delivered a ruling on legal challenges.
After the enlargement of the bloc, the treaty is meant to streamline EU decision-making, create a new EU president and foreign affairs chief. By the end of its tenure, France is supposed to oversee these appointments.
But Irish rejection of the treaty, last month, shows once again that it is the EU’s institutional shape, rather than anything it can actually do, that is in the spotlight, says BBC’s Hugh Schofield in Paris.
Speaking on France 3, Mr Sarkozy said: “Something isn’t right. Something isn’t right at all.”
“Europe worries people and, worse than that, I find, little by little our fellow citizens are asking themselves if after all the national level isn’t better equipped to protect them than the European level”, he added, calling such thinking a “step backward”.
Mr Sarkozy said: “The first priority is to pinpoint the problem with the Irish voters and to continue to allow other countries to be ratified, especially our Czech friends.”
“I don’t want to say it like that because it would give the impression of forcing their hand”, he answered, when asked if Ireland should vote again.
On 11 July, Mr Sarkozy will travel to Dublin, in order to hear Irish voters’ concerns first-hand. The day before that he will present the priorities of the French EU presidency, in an address to the EU parliament in Strasbourg, France.
In October, EU leaders are due to meet, to hear from Ireland’s prime minister on how to move forward after the “No” vote.
Nicolas Sarkzy also said that, during France’s EU presidency, he would work for a Europe-wide cut in value-added tax on restaurant bills and oil to help consumers cope with soaring crude prices.
Little support from other member states has been given to French president’s call for the EU to cut VAT on fuel.
On Tuesday afternoon, Mr Sarkozy and Prime Minister Francois Fillon are to kick off France’s stint at the EU helm by meeting European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso.
Afterwards, at the Arc de Triomphe in the French capital, a ceremony will be held.