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Posted on on July 1st, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (

French President, Nicolas Sarkozy, prime minister, François Fillon, and members of the French government will meet up with the European commission college in Paris for a working lunch to discuss the country’s agenda for the next six months.

Later, following a ceremony at the Arc de Triomphe, European Commission President José Manuel Barroso will have a private meeting with Sarkozy, before attending a dinner party in honour of the European commission at the Elysée Palace.

Parliament president Hans-Gert Pöttering will also attend the opening ceremony at the Arc de Triomphe alongside Sarkozy, Barroso and outgoing EU president, Slovenian prime minister Janez Janša.

From Press Review: Sarkozy pledges to restore trust in EU.
President Nicolas Sarkozy of France seized the reins of the EU last night, pledging to turn the EU’s crisis of confidence into an opportunity to make the unloved union more popular with almost half a billion Europeans, reports the Guardian.

The paper says that French president Nicolas Sarkozy painted himself as the guardian of Europe in a television appearance on the eve of taking over the presidency, quoting him as saying, “We must not be afraid of the word protection. We have to reflect on how to turn Europe into a means of protecting Europeans in their everyday lives.”

According to the paper, France’s presidency priorities include combating climate change, cushioning consumers against soaring food and fuel prices and taking action against illegal immigration.

However, Le Monde says that Sarkozy’s efforts to set himself up as the protector of the EU almost fell flat in the TV appearance on French channel France 3, as he struggled to offer solutions to complex European problems.

Les Echos quotes Sarkozy defending Europe’s role to French citizens, saying that the EU can play a part as a barrier against the effects of globalisation. “This will not work,” he said. “Europe is worried. Citizens are asking themselves if they’re not better off solving their problems at national level.”

The Times takes the same slant, reporting on how Sarkozy wants to restore faith in the EU after the Irish rejection of the Lisbon treaty. He will travel to Dublin in a few days to meet with Irish prime minister Brian Cowen to discuss the fallout.

But Deutsche Welle reports on comments from a London-based expert on Sarkozy’s upcoming visit to the Irish capital. It says that because of the French president’s unpredictability, the trip could well set Europe back rather than take it forward.

Meanwhile, the FT says that France wants to add a military dimension to European space policy to counter threats from terrorism and conventional military power. French ambitions range from setting up an EU spy satellite system to joining a manned US mission to Mars, adds the paper.

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