Sarkozy and Europe: Separating the half-truths from the lies

Nicolas Sarkozy [Sens Commun/Flickr]

EURACTIV has analysed the positions of French presidential candidate Nicolas Sarkozy on the major European issues and found that his rhetoric is dominated by falsehoods and contradictions. EURACTIV France reports.

  • Standards Sarkozy wants “a comprehensive law to repeal any French standards that are higher than the required European standards”. 26/02/016.


Most European standards are applied through directives. Some directives are toughened during their transposition into French law. This is known as “gold plating”, and can lead to higher standards in certain countries in areas like security or the environment. Repealing these “higher” standards poses two problems. The first is the identification and analysis of these standards: a law that is seen as too strict by farmers may be too lenient for environmentalists. Secondly, European standards are designed to serve as a minimum threshold. Bringing the French standards down to this legal minimum in all areas would place France on the same level as some of the EU’s least advanced countries, like Romania and Bulgaria.

  • The deficit “Whoever becomes president in 2017 will have to renegotiate, because François Hollande has lied again: the deficit, even according to the president of the National Assembly’s finance committee, will not be 3%, but 4%.” 27/09/2016.


France promised Brussels to bring its deficit below 3% of GDP in 2017. The European Commission’s patience with Paris ran dry this year after a series of failures and delays. While the socialist government’s deficit reduction predictions for 2017 have been widely judged as optimistic, Sarkozy has also promised heavy tax cuts, including knocking 10% off income tax and abolishing wealth tax altogether. Business would also see their employment costs for low-wage workers reduced. But these measures would leave the government even further out of pocket. Despite planned public spending cuts of€100 billion between 2017 and 2022, Sarkozy’s plan would deepen the deficit. So while he may not be wrong about France’s deficit calculations, his fiscal plan is full of contradictions.

  • Brexit “To the Brits, I would say: you have left, but we have a new treaty on the table, so you have the chance to vote again. This time not on the old Europe, but a new Europe. Do you want to stay? If so, great. Because I cannot accept losing Europe’s second biggest economy at a time when we are negotiating Turkey’s accession.” 27/09/2016.

Talking of treaty change is unrealistic. This would require referendums, a source of great uncertainty. Promising treaty change is the equivalent of promising a referendum on the EU, and playing with fire.


  • The Touquet agreement on Calais “I demand the opening of a centre in England to process the asylum applications of migrants in Calais, to make the English do their own work […]. They will organise the transport to send home the people they do not want.” 27/08/2016.

The Touquet agreement was concluded in 2003 and signed by Sarkozy when he was interior minister. He is the architect of this agreement, which allows for close cooperation between the British and French police and border forces. Questioning it is a response to France’s rising tide of populism, but it does not solve the underlying problem. Identity checks will still have to be carried out in Calais, as well as at the Eurostar terminal in Paris.

  • International trade “Trade negotiations should be carried out by the EU presidency, not just by the Trade Commissioner.” 07/09/2016.

Article 207 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) gives the European Commission the power to negotiate trade deals on behalf of the member states. The European Council must first vote to give the executive a negotiating mandate. Giving the EU presidency the power to negotiate trade deals would require treaty change.

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