Nicolas Sarkozy, France’s president, has made an impassioned plea for greater European political and social integration, setting out a list of European Union priorities that he would promote if he is re-elected.
Sarkozy, who, according to opinion polls, is lagging behind the Socialist candidate, François Hollande, in the race to be voted French president in May, said he believed that only closer co-operation in the areas of defence, taxation and immigration could “keep up the momentum” of closer European unity.
Speaking at the conclusion of a summit of the EU’s national leaders in Brussels – which will be his last if he loses the election – Sarkozy set out a list of his priorities for the EU.
• He said that he wanted to ban companies from Asia from winning contracts to run public services in EU member states because European companies were prohibited from entering Asian markets. The European Commission is expected to make a proposal to this effect later this month.
• He wants strengthened ‘anti-dumping’ measures, where non-EU countries flood the European market with cheap goods. He singled out the steel market as a particular problem.
• He said that competition policy needed to be “re-engineered”. “Should we have 27 different competition policies or one policy for all of us?” he asked.
• He renewed his call for tax harmonisation because of “tax dumping”. He said that there was “huge work to be done” in this area.
• He said more people should stand up for the European way of doing things from a moral perspective. “That’s why I stood up for a tax on financial transactions,” he said, as well as pointing out that it was the duty of Europe first and foremost to sort out problems in Syria and Libya because the Mediterranean was the “core of European civilisation”.
• There was a need for a European industrial policy, he said, as well as a strong European defence policy, and a “new way of running” Schengen, the borderless travel area.
• He called for a common immigration policy for all EU countries.
Sarkozy said that the EU was “entering adulthood” but that “there is so much to do”.
“We have set up the right tools, now we have got to use them fully,” he said.
Despite his passion for the EU, Sarkozy ruled out running for president of the European Council or Commission if he failed to get re-elected in France.
He said he did “not have the qualities” to do the jobs as well as the current incumbents, Herman Van Rompuy and José Manuel Barroso.
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