Nicolas Sarkozy, the French president, has definitely been looking forward to this day for a long time. He’ll be the head of Europe for the rest of 2008. However, his EU presidency will be less about representing a strong united Europe in the world and will be more about dealing with the crisis resulting from the Irish “no” to the reform treaty, the global food and energy crisis and the threat of an economic downturn and high inflation rates. In addition, Poland’s president called ratifying the reform treaty “pointless” after the Irish rejection which is the most foolish statement of a European head of government I’ve heard since the Irish referendum.
A lot of hard work and good will is necessary to get Europe back on the track towards a slim and effective administration so that the 27-nation bloc will be able to accommodate other new members. Sarkozy has to succeed or else the outlook is rather gloomy with the upcoming presidency holders not being powerful enough to make all 27 EU countries agree on a new legal basis.
But Sarkozy lacks a bit of economic competence which came to the fore when he took on the European Central Bank which will raise interest rates to tackle inflation rates which are getting out of hand at the moment fueled by rising energy and food prices. The ECB’s primary objective is to maintain price stability throughout the Eurozone and has to act now with inflation at a record rate of 4%. Sarkozy has tried several times to influence the ECB in its decisions unsuccessfully. An independent central bank is the only guarantee for economic stability. Jean-Claude Trichet who is the president of the Eurpean Central Bank and also a Frenchman deserves a lot of respect for withstanding various attempts to push the ECB towards helping some European economies whose governments failed to take the steps necessary to make their economies competitive.