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Affirming that "France is back in Europe..."

brussels bureau

Affirming that "France is back in Europe..."


French President Nicolas Sarkozy is expected to spell out his idea for a quick institutional reform treaty for the European Union in Brussels this Wednesday. Meeting Chancellor Angela Merkel of the EU’s current presiding nation Germany last week, Sarkozy said getting the EU out of its current paralysis was “the number one emergency”. Yet the 18 EU countries that have ratified the constitution do not want to see its substance shredded.

Analyst Daniel Gros said: “It is likely actually that there will be movement on the constitutional front because Sarkozy wants to have a success, and the easiest way to have a success at the European level is to give the Germans something: Something means a mini-treaty at least, and a treaty with which Gordon Brown can live with as well.”

Britain’s relationship with Europe will not change under Gordon Brown, Prime Minister Tony Blair said on Monday, predicting London would remain “pro-Europe” and in favour of reform in the EU. Late next month, Blair will hand over power to Brown, who is widely seen as more eurosceptic.

Euro-deputy Jacques Toubon, with Sarkozy’s UMP conservatives, is also optimistic for Europe, saying: “The newspaper headlines make it look as though the starting positions are far apart; I’m convinced that what we have here are politicians – men and women – who are capable of reaching accords, and let’s hope faster than their predecessors.”

British Labour MEP Richard Corbett speculates about compatibility and being consistent: “Brown and Sarkozy may well get on, we will see. But the crucial thing in Europe is to be able to work together even if you have different perspectives and different points of view. That was always perhaps difficult with Chirac, whose point of view anyway tended to change so radically from one year to the next on different subjects. Maybe that will be easier with Sarkozy.”

Chancellor Merkel has promised to present a way out of the EU’s institutional deadlock at an EU summit on June 21-22, which will be President Sarkozy’s first and Prime Minister Blair’s last.

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