Speech given by Mr. Nicolas SARKOZY, President of the French Republic, at the public meeting on Europe

This evening, I have
come back to Strasbourg. I have come to report to the French about what I did as
regards the European summit, which will go down as an important moment in the
process of building Europe.
This evening, I have come to tell the French the lessons for the present and for
the future which I have learned from what happened. When you make commitments,
you honour them. The divorce between France and politics stems from the fact
that promises were given and never honoured. The break [with past policies] I’m
so keen to see is this: what I said before the elections, I shall honour
afterwards. I want to reconcile the French with politics.

UNION OF EUROPE It’s France who most
wanted Europe and who made it possible by taking the initiative of the fraternal
gesture which was to change the course of history. Since while the Europe of
civilization and culture is a legacy going back many centuries, while European
man has been a reality for a very long time, the Europe we know, we want, the
Europe of peace, the Europe of peoples who are no longer rivals, who are no
longer enemies, but partners, the Europe of nations conscious that their destiny
is shared and intent on forging it together, the fraternal Europe, this Europe,
this is the result of the Franco-German reconciliation, the common will not to
forget the suffering but to overcome it, not to reject a painful past, but
together look to the future.

friendship was the instigation for the European Union. It will always cement it.
This is why Strasbourg, symbol of Franco-German reconciliation, will forever be
Europe’s capital. Because it’s here that we fought and it’s here that we were
Europe’s union isn’t based on repentance. Europe’s union isn’t based on
atonement for a tragic history. It’s based on the desire shared by all European
peoples to learn the lessons of this history.

It’s based on the
shared will to safeguard the vast legacy of civilization the centuries have
bequeathed to us, to preserve this priceless treasure I call European humanism,
to keep European man alive, the human ideal we wanted all mankind the world
over, universally, to share.
What those famous Frenchmen [Jean Monnet, Schuman and General de Gaulle]
achieved and is so great measured against history, it is our duty to continue.
This is the first duty of the President of the French Republic.

From time immemorial,
France has been herself, France has been great, and France has been strong only
when she has stood at Europe’s centre of gravity.

What is the European
ideal? It’s the desire to persuade Europe to fight against the death of a
certain idea of man and civilization threatened initially in the succession of
European civil wars, then in the Cold War and which is today facing the risk of
the flattening of the world and the frictions between different identities it

This is the European
ideal. It’s what we always have to return to when we doubt Europe.

To get 27 countries, which are old nations packed with history, with their
characters, and their interests, to agree, there has to be an impetus. It’s lost
when people lose sight of the objective, when they no longer understand the
meaning of what’s being done.

I am going to say what
I really believe. It isn’t peace treaties which make peace between peoples, but
the will of the peoples to stop fighting each other. It isn’t European treaties
which persuade us to think more European, but thinking European which enables
the treaties to be concluded.
Whenever Europe has replaced ends with means, it has gone through a crisis.
Whenever Europe has concerned itself only with its organization and functioning,
no longer querying the project this organization was to serve or what cause it
was supposed to be functioning for, Europe has become incomprehensible and
prompted rejection. The Europe meant to reassure people ended up worrying them.

Nothing is worse than
the great machine of Europe when it gives the impression of having become an end
in itself, functioning only for itself, spinning round and round, since it can
then no longer appeal to the European conscience for support.

This evening, facing up
to my responsibilities, I want to say to all the French and all Europeans: it
wasn’t the French and Dutch "no" votes in the referendum which brought
Europe to crisis. It’s the crisis in the concept of "thinking
European" which led to the French and Dutch voting "no", and
would very probably have prompted other European countries to vote
"no", had they organized referenda.

I want to tell all
those committed to building Europe and who pinned a lot of hope on the European
Constitution that the European Constitution couldn’t be an end in itself. I want
to tell them that the European Constitution was only a means of taking Europe
forward, it wasn’t Europe.
I want to tell them that the simplified treaty the 27 EU countries agreed on in
Brussels on 23 June in no way signals a reduction in "thinking
European", but, on the contrary, its revival, revival of a European will
common to all member countries, a will which is stronger than national egoism
and stronger than national susceptibilities.

You have to seek the
cause of the failure [of the Constitution] in the increasingly widespread
feeling that building Europe was no longer the fulfilment of a common destiny,
but the establishment of an increasingly dense network of constraints.

You have to seek it in
the perception of the EU no longer as the expression of a common will, but as
the excuse for everything that had had to be given up.

The cause of the
failure of the Constitution and Europe’s crisis has to be sought in the big
wrong-headed move to depoliticize Europe: the desire everywhere to replace
political decision by rules, standards and procedures, substitute technical
expertise for political will, and ensure that technical choices prevailed over
political choices.


The Brussels Summit was
of course a great success for the German Presidency. Mrs Merkel did a remarkable
job. It was a success for France.
But this success, which very few believed possible a few months ago, isn’t the
success of specific countries.
It’s the success of the 27.

It’s the success of the
drive to think European which prompted everyone to make concessions rather than
risk being the one to shatter the great dream of European unity.

It’s the success of the
political will over a mindset geared to abandonment and giving up.
For two years things hadn’t moved. In a few weeks, they have started moving

An intergovernmental
conference is going to meet to lay down the details and terms and conditions for
implementing what’s been decided. Then will come the ratification by the
national parliaments in the form not of a new Constitution, but of amendments to
existing treaties.

As early as 2009,
Europe will have new institutions: a stable president, a High Representative for
the Union for Foreign Affairs, legal recognition of the Eurogroup, genuine
monitoring by national parliaments of the Commission’s proposals to ensure
respect for the division of competencies between the EU and member States,
qualified majority voting extended to many spheres replacing the unanimity rule
inevitably paralysing a 27-member Europe, the strengthening of the role of the
European Parliament, which makes Strasbourg Europe’s parliamentary capital and
the double majority system which will make it possible to correct the
inadequacies of the Nice Treaty and will come into force in 2014.
These are absolutely essential reforms.

Thanks to the stable
president of the European Council, elected for a two-and-a-half year term,
renewable once, the EU will have a face, the EU will have its own will, the EU
will have a continuity of action instead of changing its president every six
months. Thanks to a High Representative, Europe will at last be able to talk
with one voice to the major world powers. It isn’t a matter of replacing
national foreign policies by a European foreign policy. But when European
governments agree, one person can act on their behalf instead of three, today.

Qualified majority
voting will allow us to take decisions and act. I’m thinking of cooperation in
combating crime. I’m thinking of the energy policy in Europe we need so much.
I’m thinking of the European immigration policy we need so much. In these
absolutely essential spheres, the EU is going to end its paralysis.

By recognizing a
genuine decision-making power for the Eurogroup, the new treaty is laying the
foundations of the future economic government of the Euro Area.

National parliaments
will be able to monitor the Commission’s proposals and check they comply with
the subsidiarity principle. So Europe will be able to take decisions; Europe
will be able to function.


The greatest success of
this summit is that politics has taken over again. The improbable synthesis of
the "yes" and "no" supporters has begun. There’s only one
possible reasonable solution to the peoples’ growing disenchantment vis-à-vis a
Europe which seemed to be honouring none of its promises, to the tendency to
fall back on national identity in the face of the loss of bearings and
direction, and to the resurgence of the nations which throughout the world are
expressing the need for protection: the "yes" and "no"
Europes have to come together. There weren’t on one side the intelligent people
who had understood everything and, on the other, the obtuse who had understood
nothing. There were worried people expressing a need for protection
By "synthesis" I mean the search for the happy medium between the aims
of the "yes" and the "no" supporters. I mean the effort to
transcend the contradictions. This synthesis lies in the vision of a Europe
which gives itself the means to act and protect itself.

The synthesis between
the "yes" and "no" supporters lies in a Europe which,
rejecting all naivety, gives itself the means to act, to fight all forms of
dumping, to establish a Community preference û it isn’t a bad word û and
implement industrial policies. We have created Europe so we can keep factories,
industries in Europe, not watch them leave for other continents, sitting on our
hands and doing nothing. That isn’t what Europe is.
The synthesis between the "yes" and "no" supporters lies in
a Europe which doesn’t accept deindustrialization û I dare use the word û
which doesn’t sit on its hands in the face of offshoring, which doesn’t give in
to the pseudo-dictatorship of the markets.

The synthesis between
the "yes" and "no" supporters lies in a Europe which isn’t
Malthusian, but is capable of investing massively in the activities of tomorrow,
in infrastructure, training and research.

The synthesis between
the "yes" and "no" supporters lies in a Europe where the
euro will at last be used to deliver growth and serve the economy. We haven’t
created the world’s second most important currency to be the only ones not using

The synthesis between
the "yes" and "no" supporters lies in a Europe which
prevents by all possible means its members from engaging in an endless race to
the bottom in taxation and social protection.

The synthesis between
the "yes" and "no" supporters lies in a Europe which
controls immigration, where no one can decide on a mass legalization of illegals
without the others’ agreement.

The synthesis between
the "yes" and "no" supporters lies in a Europe which
respects the nations, wants them to cooperate, unite and delegate part of their
sovereignty, but doesn’t want them to disappear, doesn’t want to be built
against their wishes.

The synthesis between
the "yes" and "no" supporters lies in a Europe where each
nation has its place and its role, where the nation essentially continues to
serve as the framework of democracy, a Europe which respects subsidiarity, a
Europe which does only what the nations can’t do well, a Europe which
fundamentally remains a Europe of nations jointly exercising their sovereignty.

The synthesis between
the "yes" and "no" supporters lies in a Europe which rejects
globalization without rules. I said this at the G8, in a meeting of the G24, in
the presence of M. Lamy: it’s a Europe which is open to globalization and free
trade, but where there is reciprocity. It’s, for example, a Europe which doesn’t
accept the United States getting an exemption at the WTO to support its SMEs
when Europe is refused an equivalent one under the same conditions. This isn’t
fair competition.

The synthesis between
the "yes" and "no" supporters lies in the Europe reaching
out to the South, stretching out a hand to Africa and making a huge effort in
the Mediterranean, the Europe which is ready to make the Mediterranean the
linchpin of a great Euro-African union, the Europe, which, alongside Barcelona
and the Euro-Mediterranean dialogue, supports and encourages the Mediterranean
union because it is its future.

It’s a Europe as a
world power in a democratic Europe, a Europe which is reconnecting with the
philosophy of its founding fathers when they invented the European Coal and
Steel Community, Common Market and Common Agricultural Policy. At that time
every European knew the purpose of Europe.


I want to raise all the
issues, I want to ask all the questions, and I want to talk about all the
I want to raise the issue of monetary dumping, social dumping and environmental

How do you expect us to
go on as we are at the moment? Our companies have to compete against countries
which don’t care about environmental balances, don’t comply with any social
legislation and indulge in tax dumping. Who can tell me that’s competition? It’s
unfairness, not competition.
I want to raise the issue of Community preference since the equivalent exists in
the United States. The Americans have for a long time had a tax system which is
more favourable to products manufactured in the United States than to products
manufactured in Asia.


I ask for your
attention for a minute. I’m going to tell you something extremely important.
There’s the issue of the excessively high euro. Are we going to be able to keep
on manufacturing planes on the European continent when every time the euro
appreciates by 10 cents, Airbus has a deficit of a billion? I can’t accept this
policy because look at what the Americans do with the dollar, look at what the
Chinese do with the yuan, look at what the Japanese do with the yen. I’m simply
saying that when the dollar depreciates by 33% against the euro, how do you
expect our companies to get back through productivity what they have lost,
unfairly, through political management of the world’s other currencies? I voted
for the euro, I believe in the euro. But at the end of the day the currency
isn’t a taboo issue. I want the currency to deliver growth, jobs for your
children, for you, full employment in Europe. I don’t want people to make it a
subject only bankers can talk about.
I have been thinking about industrial policies.
I have been looking at competition law compared with what happens outside


I want to raise the
issue of the long-term future of the Common Agricultural Policy and Europe’s
food independence. What’s the point of imposing on our farmers traceability and
food safety if we import into Europe products for which we can guarantee neither
their traceability nor their safety? The day when we have no more farmers, we’ll
have lost Europe’s food independence. What will people then say about consumer
safety. I’m not going to the European Council with my beret and my baguette. I’m
going to defend all Europeans’ food safety and independence. All Europeans need
the continued existence of a powerful, modern, balanced European agriculture,
that’s the reality. Moreover, I said to President Bush: "I congratulate
you, Mr President, for defending American farmers. I’ll do exactly the same for
European farmers".


I want to raise the
issue of European policy on sustainable development and ecotaxes. If only we
could at last decide all together, in Europe, on systematically reducing VAT on
clean products.

I want to raise the
issue of the unanimity rule for cutting VAT when it has no impact on competition
between member States. How come some countries have to reduce taxes on profits
to zero and we, France, have to wait for the unanimous agreement of all the
partners to cut VAT by a few percentage points in one sector? The rule must be
the same. OK, we can do this on our own for our wealth tax, so we should also be
able to adjust our VAT rates. There can’t be double standards in the Europe I
want to see.

I want to raise the
issue of the defence effort with respect to the Stability Pact. Of course
France, Germany, Italy and Britain are making huge defence efforts, but are we
going to be able to go on for a long time having four or five countries in
Europe ensuring the security of all the others and complying with the same
[Stability Pact] deficit rules when so many others haven’t got the defence
budgets we have?


I want to raise the
crucial issue of Europe’s borders. Since, without borders, there won’t be any
European identity and nor will there be any European power, because of the
European will being doomed to keep on forever being diluted. When talking about
the borders, I’m thinking about all those countries which are Europe’s
neighbours and Europe has to build special ties with, but, I say, aren’t all
destined to become fully-fledged members of the EU.


The moment has come for
the 27 to start addressing the questions: what is Europe? What are the criteria
for it? On what principles is it defined? I want us to go further. I want us to
be clearer. I no longer want there to be misunderstandings when everyone thinks
one thing and says something else. Since this is what’s actually going on and
the French shouldn’t be told: "don’t worry, it won’t happen". If it
won’t happen, one must simply say so. Personally I don’t want misunderstandings.
I want Europe to apply to relations with its neighbours the principles I believe
in, principles of truth and sincerity, since without truth and sincerity,
there’s no real friendship. I want to go further. Europe isn’t only the
currency, it isn’t only budgetary discipline, it isn’t only competition law, it
isn’t only borders, and it isn’t only voting weights. Europe is a civilization
Europe needs a new Renaissance. It needs to create the conditions for this

It needs to create the
psychological, intellectual and moral climate thanks to which, within our old
nations, everyone will once again feel intuitively that everything is possible,
that they can fulfil their dreams, that the possibilities of human adventure are
infinite, thanks to which we’ll see the rebirth of faith in the future and self

Dernière modification : 19/04/2012

top of the page