At the European Parliament in Strasbourg, President Nicolas Sarkozy has presented the agenda for the Council of the European Union, now under French leadership.
Over the next six months, Sarkozy said he would propose a solution for the stalled Lisbon reform treaty. He has a brief consultation trip to Ireland – where voters rejected the treaty – planned for the 21st.
Sarkozy said: “If we want enlargement – and I do – first we need new institutions. How could anyone understand a Europe of 27 members incapable of giving itself those institutions… with no other priority but to expand blindly in future? Things must be clear: if we want enlargement, there must be new institutions.”
Sarkozy noted that EU elections next year also need Lisbon treaty questions answered.
Liberal leader Graham Watson chided him for his decision to attend the Olympics opening ceremony: “France gave us the rights of man, now France must lead in their defence. At home by pressing ahead with the anti-discrimination directive, and abroad by anchoring peace in the Balkans, in a European Union future, by using the Union for the Mediterranean to improve human rights in north Africa, by uniting in our dealings with Russia and condemning China’s crackdown on dissent. Monsieur le président en office, n’allez pas à Beijing, jouez collectif.”
Sarkozy said he had the unanimous backing of the EU member states to attend the Beijing Olympics, and that it would be wrong to humiliate China.
The French presidency’s priorities also include a climate and energy pact, immigration, defence and food security.