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Clampdown on capitalism kindles left-right warmth in EU parliament

brussels bureau

Clampdown on capitalism kindles left-right warmth in EU parliament


Nicolas Sarkozy’s calls for more state intervention to buttress financial systems has won him mixed reactions from MEPs. The French leader gave his account of last week’s summit of the heads of state and government.

He told the European Parliament the recent events had strengthened the case for a united European response to major world problems.

The head of the assembly’s liberal group, Graham Watson, gave the centre-right guest a favourable review: “I think Mister Sarkozy has actually been a good demonstration of the case for a full time president of the Council. In August, Europe kept the tanks out of Tbilissi. Since then we’ve kept the banks in business. If, in December, we can keep the planet a good place to live, then this presidency will have been a great success.”

Sarkozy rejected any backtracking on European climate plans under negotiation. This received broad overall support, but the Greens’ Daniel Cohn-Bendit said he should have relied more on the member states’ ministers to work on policy: “He got his procedure wrong. He’s saved everything for December’s European Council, where decisions need unanimity, so he’s opened up a Pandora’s Box of vetoes.”

The Socialist Martin Schulz celebrated what he called Sarkozy’s conversion to centre-left thinking. But as the German called for boosting purchasing power, Sarkozy joshed back: “You’re not talking like a French Socialist!”

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