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French Presidential Elections and Europe

Nicolas Sarkozy vs. Ségolène Royal:
“Do you allow us to speak about Europe?”

Less than 10 minutes devoted to European questions during this debate!

, by Translated by Peter Matjašič, Pierre-Marie Giard

All the versions of this article: [English] [français]

“Do you allow us to speak about Europe?” was the phrase with which the renown journalist Patrick Poivre d’Arvor tried to tackle the European subject (classified in the rubric “international relations”) after two hours of Franco-French discussions. The debate on Europe would deserve to be treated differently. What is truly at stake for Europe at the moment is however clear: a federal Europe or Europe of Nations. And neither Nicolas Sarkozy nor Ségolène Royal expressed their opinion on this…

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An insignificant place for Europe in the debate between Sarkozy and Royal

Two years after passionate discussions about the Constitutional Treaty, the presidential campaign was awaited by all the militants of the European cause as a moment of truth, an occasion for the candidates with the supreme office to reveal their ambition for a European France.

The debate of the interval turns was very disappointing on the matter. The questions occupied only one very small segment of the speaking time of the candidates. It is utterly regrettable that this question was still treated as a simple international question.

Even though Europe was never in the heart of this debate, the candidates nevertheless multiplied the propositions and the statements concerning the social policy of the other European countries (Scandinavian countries in particular). They spoke to us about a French growth as if this would not be related to European growth. They did not mention at all what they would defend within the European Council as a representative of France. Whereas 70% of the French laws result from a transposition of European directives, this aspect was (voluntarily?) occulted.

The energy questions, for example, were mentioned without recalling that a Green Book of the European Commission proposes today a framework of reflection and technical structures in order to better define the problems and appropriateness of various energies in Europe. Would not the only reasonable and useful dimension for this crucial question be European?

Proposals for Europe of the two candidates

On the principle of a future treaty with institutional character, both candidates qualified for the second turn distinguish themselves concerning the mode of adoption of this text. The “simplified treaty” desired by Nicolas Sarkozy would be ratified the parliamentary way. Ségolène Royal for its part promises the organization of a referendum on a text which she would like to see supplemented by a “social protocol”.

For the Young Europeans France, the organization of a referendum meets the expectations of the European population provided that this one is Pan-European.

Ségolène Royal pointed out her wish to re-launch Europe through politics, but that should not be reduced only to institutional affairs. Royal desires a “Europe by the proof”. She in particular proposes to negotiate with other European partners a VAT for everything that relates to renewable energies.

Nicolas Sarkozy wishes Europe not be “the Trojan horse of globalisation” and rehabilitates the community preference, in particular in the WTO negotiations.

When it comes to enlargement, Nicolas Sarkozy recalled his hostility towards the entry of Turkey in the European Union. According to him this state belongs to Asia Minor and must have its place in the middle of a Mediterranean Union. Ségolène Royal required not to slam the door and recalled that the French people will be consulted on this subject by referendum, as envisaged by the French Constitution.

The media did not play their part

The European questions were treated only at the end of the topics of the debate. Unfortunately, those were relegated in a sub-heading of the international questions next to the question of nuclear power in Iran and development of Africa. It is dismaying! On the eve of an important European Council for the future of the European Union, how can one still dare to treat this subject as an international question?

During the debate, the presenters should have questioned the candidates on the answers which the European Union brings in the fields of environment and growth. Instead, they were satisfied to distribute the word, to even be simply a privileged spectator.

What a shame for our country that used to be one were most people mobilized on the European questions throughout the countryside!

Following this debate, the French and European citizens remain unsatisfied. The European ambition of the candidates does not pass.

We can only consider it regrettable that the solution of a federal Europe is once again put aside.

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P.S.

Image: made as combination of two photos, namely that of Ségolène Royal (at the Paris Halle Carpentier in February 2007) from Jastrow and that of Nicolas Sarkozy (in Toulouse in April 2007) from Guillaume Paumier.

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