No problem, just clearing the air… British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and French President Nicolas Sarkozy have met on the sidelines of the European Union leaders’ summit in Brussels. This was in a bid to ease tension over the appointment of a Frenchman to oversee a shake-up of European banking.
Both sides deny there was ever any rift after Sarkozy described the choice of former foreign minister Michel Barnier as a victory for
France and the European economic model, and a big loss for free-market Britain.
Piotr Kaczynski, with the Centre for European Policy Studies said: “There is always going to be a tension between France and the UK of some sort, but it showed that the media speculations of a major disagreement between the two leaders was more of a media picture than a reality.”
As officials and bankers in London sought signs that the City’s pre-eminent position would not be undermined, in a show of unity before their meeting Brown and Sarkozy said in a co-authored column in the Wall Street Journal that financial standards should be global — and called for a one-off tax on bank bonuses.
The EU’s future internal market commissioner post is subject to European Parliament confirmation.
Barnier has said he will represent the interests of all 27 member states.