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Day One of the French Presidency increases my worries. From the Schumann Plan to monetary union, the big ideas which fashioned European integration have been mainly French. But the tenor of the rhetoric of the French leadership leaves me incredulous and worried. “No-one understands the European Union, not even me”, says Foreign Minister, Bernard […]… » read more

We appear to be in for a roller-coaster ride under the French – or rather Sarkozy – Presidency, which begins in a few days. Most worrying is his declared intention to travel to Ireland presidency to help find a solution. His reactions so far are not conducive to his playing a constructive role. […] Original… » read more

France talks to Hamas

Le Figaro reports that around a month ago, a retired high-level French diplomat met with the main representatives of Hamas, and only later informed the French foreign ministry. It’s hard to believe that a recently retired ambassador would not have informally cleared this with the Elysée or Quai d’Orsay. The piece also notes that Nicolas… » read more

10 years after the Franco-British St Malo accord, President Sarkozy’s successful visit to London brings hope for a strategic consensus between France, Germany and the UK, supported by most Member States. Beyond diplomatic initiatives, this could encompass energy policy, climate change and also development aid. This is the conclusion of an interesting article by Thierry… » read more

The whirlwind state visit of President Nicolas and Carla Sarkozy to the UK is over. What are its lasting implications? The rhetoric on these grand occasions is not necessarily converted into action. It is especially difficult to interpret the nature of Sarkozian initiatives and their durability. The President clearly seeks to bring France closer to… » read more

My 5 March posting commented on Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy making up after a period of strained relations. In a discussion yesterday, the sustainability of this rapprochement was questioned. The personal chemistry of the current Franco-German couple is unlikely to lead to the relationship matching that of several of its predecessors, but […] Original… » read more

Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy both referred on Monday 3 March in Hanover to the friendship between the two countries, after a period of cool relations. They announced agreement on Sarkozy’s ’Mediterranean Union’ project, originally opposed by the German Chancellor. No details were given and there will be a Franco-German proposal to next week’s European… » read more

A taste of things to come

President Nicolas Sarkozy’s visit to the French Agricultural Show in Paris on 23 February was far more eventful than expected. This is not the place to compete with You Tube’s video clip of his extraordinary conversation with a visitor who refused to shake his hand. On the WTO trade negotiations, the French President brought up… » read more

I received a provocative note from my good friend and colleague, Eberhard Rhein, and with his permission, publish it below: During their recent visits to Ryadh the French and US Presidents have called on the Saudis to lower the oil price as it hurts American and French families. They received a polite but firm answer… » read more

Sarko’s Thatcher Moment

Nicolas Sarkozy promises to reform France’s sclerotic economy. While France produces cadres of brilliant engineers and entrepreneurs who build businesses in Silicon Valley, the Gallic system encourages many of its most talented to become fonctionnaires impeding wealth and job creation, discourages risk taking, and rigidly protects today’s firms and jobs at the expense of preventing… » read more

Some of French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s public utterances understandably worry Beijing. What will be the changes in Sino-French relations as result of Sarkozy succeeding the Sinophile, Jacques Chirac? Concern is expressed about Sarkozy’s pro-American policy and greater pragmatism in his attitude towards China. Sarkozy’s absolute priority is domestic reform and everything he says and does… » read more

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