Thursday plenary: Sarkozy sets out priorities for French EU presidency

Institutions - 11-07-2008 - 12:01
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Thursday, 10 July, Strasbourg: Mr Sarkozy makes his point

Thursday, 10 July, Strasbourg: Mr Sarkozy makes his point

Nicolas Sarkozy gave an impassioned speech in the European Parliament Thursday spelling out the priorities of his country's 6 month tenure at the helm of the EU. Energy, climate change, immigration and the need for Europe to develop a defence policy were areas he identified as needing action. He also mentioned the need to find a way forward after the Irish "No" vote on the Lisbon treaty. The afternoon saw debates on human rights.

Both at the start and end of the 6-month presidency of the EU, the leader of the country comes to the European Parliament to set out their policies and vision of the Union.
Sarkozy lays out his policies
On energy and climate change Mr Sarkozy was adamant: "we are the last generation that can prevent a catastrophe - the world cannot wait, Europe has to show the way".
He called for a non-partisan approach to tackling the problem - "no right-wing, no left-wing priority but common sense".
Turning to immigration Mr Sarkozy asked "is it reasonable to have different immigration policies?" He went on to say that "Europe is not a fortress, Europe needs immigrants but it cannot absorb all the people".
Later in the speech the French Presidency called on the European Union to embrace a more active defence policy. "How can Europe become a political power with strong voice if it cannot defend itself? Europe has no military, no human resources to make enforce the decisions made together" he told MEPs.
On agricultural issues he said that "every 30 seconds a child dies from hunger. Is it reasonable to demand Europe to reduce food production?" he asked.
Mr Sarkozy also said that health, pensions and research into diseases would also be high priorities over the next six months.
Turns to Lisbon treaty, institutional impasse
Also during the speech Mr Sarkozy addressed the ongoing ratification of the Lisbon treaty and the complications thrown up by the Irish "No" vote.  He said his first visit as President in office of the Council would be to Ireland where he would listen and talk to people. He told MEPs that he hoped to suggest a solution in agreement with Irish government by October or December.
He then turned to the importance of making sure that progress is made. He told the House that it was important to "reassure Europeans" and show that Europe is working for everyone.
He told the House that "we have an institutional problem" and that institutional issues are something for members of parliaments rather than for citizens. He said that if Europe wanted to enlarge further it needed new institutions and the Lisbon Treaty. Mr Sarkozy also stressed the need "to bring everybody on the board of the European family. A multi speed Europe only the last resort" he said.
Finally, he urged action saying that despite the institutional problems "we are not condemned to immobility - we have to act immediately".
Many political groups supported the French priorities, while some criticised the lack of social dimension and Sarkozy’s plans to attend the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games in Beijing.
Find out more about the reactions of the political groups, by clicking on the link below.
Human rights
Following the traditional Thursday afternoon debates on human rights the House adopted 3 resolutions calling for:
  • An investigation into alleged mass graves in Jammu and Kashmir. They also condemned unlawful killings, enforced disappearances, torture, rape and other human rights abuses in the area.
  • Bangladesh to lift the state of emergency and hold free elections.
  • The abolition of the death penalty and for the US State of Georgia to grant an amnesty to Troy Davis.
Other votes:
In the voting session, the House adopted a number of texts, notably on:
  • EU-China relations
  • Zimbabwe
  • "Space assets" for a European Security and defence policy
  • Census of the Roma on the basis of ethnicity in Italy
REF.: 20080627STO32900