As Angela Merkel, George W. Bush and Tony Blair lined up to congratulate Sarkozy on his victory in the French presidential run-off, in Turkey, a sense of foreboding prevails as his win threatens to upset already rocky EU-accession negotiations.
Sarkozy is welcomed by Europeans as a man capable of pushing through the necessary reforms to revitalise the French economy, including putting an end to the 35-hour working week. However, his recent protectionist statements, in which he vowed to defend French companies against foreign takeovers and blamed the strength of the euro for France’s economic woes, have caused dismay in the Commission and the European Central Bank.
Speaking to his supporters after his election, he warned that the European Union must not be “a Trojan horse” for globalisation’s ills.
- EU Treaty
Sarkozy has long pleaded for a ‘mini-treaty’ to replace the stalled EU Constitution. This new ‘tool-box’ – aimed principally at streamlining decision-making in Brussels so as to prevent bureaucratic deadlock in an EU of 27 members that will likely continue to grow – would not be subject to a fresh referendum.
- Transatlantic ties
The victory of Nicolas Sarkozy – often described as “Sarko the American” by his rivals – comes as a relief for Washington, after years of tense relations with outgoing President Jacques Chirac over the war in Iraq.
Before the elections, both Republican Senator Dick Lugar and Democratic Senator Charles Schumer said they preferred Sarkozy. “It would be nice to have someone who is head of France who doesn’t almost have a knee-jerk reaction against the United States,” said Schumer.
Speaking after the results of the election were announced, Sarkozy told the US: “They can count on our friendship”, adding: “I want to tell them that France will always be by their side.” Nevertheless he added: “But I also want to tell them that friendship means accepting that friends can have different opinions…A great nation, like the United States, has a duty not to block the battle against global warming but, on the contrary, to take the lead in this battle, because the fate of the whole of humanity is at stake.”
- Enlargement and immigration
Sarkozy’s victory however comes as bad news for EU-candidate country Turkey. Indeed, the President-elect objects to further EU enlargement, saying that it will dilute Europe’s identity and turn the EU into an unworkable institution.
Furthermore, he has stressed: “Even if Turkey is a laic country, it lies in Asia Minor. I refuse to explain to French schoolchildren that Europe’s borders are with Irak and Syria.”
He instead supports an EU-led “Mediterranean Union” that would include Turkey and other Muslim countries in North Africa and which would strive to solve problems such as immigration and poverty together. France and Africans will “decide on a policy of managed immigration together”, he said, although many believe that Sarkozy could harden immigration laws and perform mass expulsions.