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French President Nicolas Sarkozy
In the midst of the finance crisis, the euro zone needs a strong leader, says SarkozyImage: AP

Report: Sarkozy Wants to Lead Euro Zone Until 2010

DPA news agency (kjb)
October 23, 2008

French President Nicolas Sarkozy reportedly said he wants to become president of the euro zone countries once his term as EU heads expires at the end of the year.


According to the French daily Le Monde on Wednesday, Oct. 22, several advisors to the French president have confirmed this strategy.

Sarkozy's ambition is based on his firm conviction that the crisis in Georgia and the financial crisis both demonstrated that Europe was in need of a strong leader.

According to Le Monde, Sarkozy believes that without such an individual at the helm, the EU would never have been able to negotiate with Moscow or decide on an effective plan to rescue European banks.

In addition, with Ireland's rejection of the Lisbon treaty, there will be no stable presidency of the EU, elected for a period of 30 months, as the treaty had foreseen.

Next EU presidencies not in euro zone

As a result, the EU will be led by the euro-skeptic Czech President Vaclav Klaus and his prime minister, Mirek Topolanek, beginning on Jan. 1, 2009, with the Prague government fighting for survival after a landslide defeat in recent regional elections.

In July 2009, the EU will be headed by Sweden, which -- like the Czechs -- does not use the single currency.

One-, two-, and five-cent euro coins
The next two EU presidency holders are outside the euro zoneImage: AP

To avoid what he foresees as a paralysis in the EU, Sarkozy sees the soon-to-be 16-member euro zone as an effective alternative, as it was on Oct. 12, when euro zone leaders formulated the European bank rescue plan at a summit in Paris convened by the French president.

In a speech before EU parliamentarians in Strasbourg on Tuesday, Sarkozy said that "a meeting of (EU) finance ministers is not up to dealing with the crisis."

German minister rejects joint economic governance

Only heads of state and government "have the democratic legitimacy" to decide such wide-ranging measures as the bank rescue plan, he said in Strasbourg.

Since the eurogroup has no legal existence, a euro zone president could be elected without resorting to a constitution.

Or a decision could be taken to allow France -- that is, Sarkozy -- to continue in a leadership position until the EU presidency reverts to a country that uses the euro, which would be Spain in January 2010.

However, it seems unlikely that other EU countries will go along with the idea.

In an interview published Wednesday in the French business daily La Tribune, German Economics Minister Michael Glos said the proposal of a single economic governance of euro zone countries was "not suitable for resolving the current problems."

The problems of individual EU member nations were diverse, he said, and the majority of economic policies should remain national decisions.

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