Sarkozy said that Europe needed to adopt "a common strategy in the face of the Libyan crisis, the consequences of which could be very significant for the stability of the entire region".
"We know what the consequences of such strategies could be on uncontrollable migratory flows and terrorism," he explained.
Sarkozy called on Europe to "equip itself without delay with new tools to promote education and training of the youth in the countries of the Southern Mediterranean". He also called for the establishment of an "economic and commercial policy" in the region.
A paralysed Mediterranean Union
Over the course of his speech, the French president also called for a "re-foundation" of the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM), a project launched in 2008 under the French EU Presidency.
The new union should "allow all the peoples of the Mediterranean to build a common destiny," Sarkozy said. Since its launch in July 2008, the UfM has encountered serious institutional and political difficulties.
The organisation, which encompasses 43 countries including 27 EU members, is paralysed by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Two years after the organisation's founding summit in Paris, the leaders of UfM countries were supposed to meet in June 2010. They ultimately postponed their meeting indefinitely.
The most recent development was the resignation of the secretary-general of the UfM at the end of January. Ahmad Masa'deh, a Jordanian national, justified his departure by declaring that the conditions under which he had accepted the position had changed.
One of the objectives of Sarkozy's speech was to announce a reshuffle of the country's cabinet, with veteran politician Alain Juppé replacing Michèle Alliot-Marie as foreign minister.
An escalating scandal involving Alliot-Marie and her ties to Tunisia's ousted regime finally led to her resignation on Sunday.
Today (28 February) the EU officially adopted sanctions against the regime of Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi.
EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton welcomed a UN Security Council decision, taken over the weekend, to impose a travel ban and assets freeze on Libyan leader Gaddafi, his family and associates, and said that the EU would "ensure swift implementation" of these measures.
A diplomatic source told EurActiv.fr that ceasing economic relations, as initially proposed earlier by France, was not among the options taken up by the Council.
Ashton's spokesperson, Maja Kociajancic, said the EU measures would include an embargo on equipment that may be used for internal oppression, as well as additional steps including a travel ban and asset freeze.
Asked by EurActiv.fr if the EU had encountered difficulties in trying to enforce a no-fly zone, aimed at preventing Gaddafi's regime from transporting mercenaries and attacking the population by air, Kocijancic insisted that the UN Security Council was the competent institution to deal with such issues.
Ashton's spokesperson also gave no clear answer on how the EU would enforce its arms embargo.
A treaty signed between Italy and Libya in 2008 contains a non-aggression clause that some analysts said would complicate Italy's position in the event of an international military intervention in Libya.
The treaty calls on Italy to pay Libya $5 billion over 20 years in reparations for its colonial past there. In return, Libya pledges to help block the flow of illegal immigrants to Italy and to grant favourable treatment for Italian companies seeking to do business in Libya.
News agencies reported that an interim government had been set up in Benghazi and other areas controlled by anti-Gaddafi forces. Kocijancic said the EU was trying to get in touch with the new authority.