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Europe

Sarkozy Says France Won't Propose New EU Treaty

There will be no new treaty drafted to reform EU institutions if the Lisbon Treaty is not ratified, French President Nicolas Sarkozy said Thursday to the European Parliament in Strasbourg.

Sarkozy spreading his arms to both sides while speaking at the European parliament

It's either Lisbon or nothing, Sarkozy told European lawmakers

"The next European Parliament elections (in June 2009) will be held either under the Nice Treaty or the Lisbon Treaty," Sarkozy said on Thursday, July 10. "There will be no new treaty."

The French president addressed the parliament to lay out France's program as president of the union, a role Paris assumed on July 1.

The Irish rejection of the Lisbon treaty had created "an institutional problem" for Europe, Sarkozy said, and indirectly criticized the Irish for letting its voters decide the fate of the treaty in a referendum.

"The institutional questions of Europe are an affair for parliaments, not for a referendum," Sarkozy said.

He also personally criticized Polish President Lech Kascynski for his decision not to sign the Lisbon Treaty because of the Irish rejection.

"He helped draw it up," Sarkozy said. "He gave his word that he would sign it. This is not a political question: It's a question of morality."

Solutions by fall

A Croation flag underneath an EU flag

Croatia won't become a member of the EU circle until the treaty is ratified, Sarkozy says

The French president said he would travel to Ireland on July 21 to discuss ways out of the impasse with Irish leaders, and that he would propose a solution "either in October or December."

He also reiterated his belief that there should be no further enlargement of the EU unless the union adopts new institutions to deal with an enlarged membership.

"It was a mistake not to give Europe new institutions before enlarging (in 2004)," he said. "We are paying for this today."

Although the Croats and Serbs were Europeans, they would not be admitted to the union unless the Lisbon Treaty is adopted first, he said. "First Lisbon, then enlargement. This is not a question of blackmail."

Questioning the ECB

A euro sign outside the ECB headquarters in Frankfurt

ECB headquarters in Frankfurt

Acccording to Reuters news service, Sarkozy also asserted the right of countries to question the monetary decisions of the European Central Bank -- something that Germany objects to.

"No one has the right to prevent a debate, a useful debate, on the question of what is the right economic strategy, what is the right monetary strategy, or the right exchange rate or the right interest rate strategy," he said.

"We are not calling into question the independence of the ECB if we ask whether it is reasonable for interest rates to go up to 4.25 percent when the Americans are at 2 percent," he added.

The ECB did raise its main interest rate last week to fight resurgent inflation. Sarkozy fears that this could harm the euro zone's growth.

A modern agriculture

Apart from vowing to address citizen's concerns by focussing on strict measures to fight climate change and promote renewable energy sources, a pact on managed immigration, the development of better European defense capabilities, Sarkozy said that the French presidency would also tackle a modernization of the EU's common agricultural policy.

But he made clear a world trade deal and farm reform should not lead to a fall in EU output. "Is it reasonable to ask the EU to reduce its agricultural production when the world has never needed food so much? I don't think it is reasonable," he said. "This is not about French agriculture, it is about common sense."

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