Nicolas Sarkozy dreams of a Europe without Commission

1st of December – Speech of Toulon

, by Fabien Cazenave, Translated by D’jor Moueza

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Nicolas Sarkozy dreams of a Europe without Commission

“European integration will only be achieved through intergovernmentalism because Europe will have to make strategic choices, political choices”. This sentence, extracted from Nicolas Sarkozy’s speech given in Toulon reveals that France does not want to hear about the European Commission anymore.

In his “Toulon II” Speech of the 1st of December, Nicolas Sarkozy drew out the main lines of the changes he wishes for the future of European integration. Even if we have to wait until Angela Merkel’s visit in Paris for concrete proposals, several important messages were passed.

The overhaul of Europe by intergovernmentalism or the Europe of the states

He gave several axises for the “overhaul of Europe”. First of all budget “solidarity and discipline”. Second principle : “more politics” but he quickly specifies that “the overhaul of Europe is not a walk towards more supranationalism. It is not the re-opening of the old quarrels between the supporters of a Europe of the nations and those in favour of a federal Europe. [...] European integration will only be achieved through intergovernmentalism because Europe will have to make strategic choices, political choices”

The French President uses an argument prepared by his souverainist advisor, Henri Guaino. Intergovermental Europe would be different from Europe of Nations... Someone shall explain to us the difference between Europe of the States and Europe of Nations. This announcement is effective in France, where most of the commentators and politicians ignore what federalism implies. Thus, the very serious newspaper Le Figaro did not hesitate to talk about proposals aiming towards “intergovernmental federalism”.

But intergovernmentalism implies dealing with the unanimity rule in the decision making process by member states. It is indeed this rule, derived from the necessity to respect the sovereignty of every state, which explains the delays in the adoption of decisions of Europe nowadays. Regarding this matter, Nicolas Sarkozy feels that “in the Euro zone, we now have to decide to move fearless towards more decisions adopted by the qualified majority voting rule”

This move forward would be good news because we recently witnessed the inability of the different European summits to adopt decisions but minimal ones. However, this also reveals the French President’s wish to deepen the lack of balance between the European institutions in favour the European Council. Is Europe of States walking against the communitarian Europe ?

Notably absent, the European Commission

Nicolas Sarkozy affirms that France and Germany wishes for “a true economic government. This is our vision for the future of the Eurozone and the future reform of the treaties”. And yet, an economic government needs a body to discuss and take decisions. This is where the President’s strategy unfolds : he never talks, during his speech, about the European Commission.

We must conclude that the treaty proposed by both France and Germany will be a “plan Fouchet”, the same one proposed by the General de Gaulle in order to counteract the European Commission and to make Europe become (already at that time) a intergovernmental organization.

We notice that these main lines of a new treaty go against what many European allies of France think. Thus, the Polish foreign minister, Radoslav Sikorski wished to, in a Berlin speech this week, “make the European Commission stronger”.

But, facing the will of the German and French couple, how can the Commission maintain itself ? On Twitter, a French correspondent in Brussels, Hugues Beaudoin, wrote, “After this speech, I hope there is someone in the Berlaymont to revive Barroso”. One has to hope that this will indeed wake the people of the Commission.

By constantly playing a rôle designed to be outside of the partisan politics, the European executive is today truly isolated with a president who disappeared from the media. He is even in competition with Herman Van Rompuy, when the media time spent on the action of the European institutions is mostly limited to the decision of the European Council and the declaration of the national representative at the end of the summit.

Will the supporters of a “true” Europe wake up before it is too late ? We must, now more than ever, demand that the Commission evolves into an actual European government, democratically legitimate because responsible before the direct representatives of the people, the European Parliament.

Those supporters shall keep in mind the words of the French President : “Europe needs more politics”. This could be those of the member states if we do not pay attention.

Specially after a 52 minutes-speech “dedicated to Europe” where Europe was first introduced after 30 minutes and where the President finishes with “Vive la République ! Vive la France !”. And no “Vive l’Europe”, because Europe of Nations, is first and foremost national interests before the European interests.

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