France's Sarkozy warns Europe risks disintegration


French President Nicolas Sarkozy: "Never has Europe been in more danger"

French President Nicolas Sarkozy has warned that "never has the risk of disintegration been greater" for Europe in a speech in Marseille.

He was addressing a gathering of European leaders of the centre right.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said it would take years to overcome the crisis but "we need to have more Europe".

EU leaders are preparing for a key summit in Brussels, where they will be trying to clinch a deal on how to tackle the eurozone debt crisis.

The key proposal on the agenda of the gathering in the Belgian capital later on Thursday is how to enforce budgetary discipline with automatic penalties for those eurozone nations that overspend.

Germany and France are pushing for new European Union treaties, saying stricter fiscal rules should be enshrined there.

Mr Sarkozy said Europe was in much danger.

"Never has Europe been so necessary. Never has it been in so much danger," he said.


In the closing remarks to the EPP conference, Mr Sarkozy spelt out exactly what is expected of Europe in the coming 48 hours. If there's a time for speaking frankly he said, it's now. We have only a few weeks to save the euro.

The tone suggested the German and French leaders are not altogether optimistic of finding an agreement among the wider 27 nations of the EU, but if those negotiations break down, said Mr Sarkozy, then we will have a treaty for the 17 members of the eurozone. Coherence isn't everything, he said, but in political life it counts.

The German chancellor said it was time to put aside national egos and national interest. That sounds a worthy argument but in recent days the smaller nations have complained they're being forced to follow the agenda of Germany and France with very little room for discussion.

"Never have so many countries wanted to join Europe. Never has the risk of a disintegration of Europe been so great. Europe is facing an extraordinarily dangerous situation."

He said the eurozone economies still had a few weeks to decide, but that time was working against them.

"The diagnosis is that we have a few weeks to decide because time is working against us. If we aren't in agreement on this, I fear that we won't be able to agree on anything. That's the analysis."

Mrs Merkel has said changes to the European basic treaty are necessary. She said all 27 member states in the EU had a duty to Europe, and had to work together to overcome the crisis in the eurozone.

National egos and interests had to be put aside, she added.

The two leaders were attending the annual congress of the centre-right grouping in the European Parliament, the European People's Party (EPP), in the southern French city.

As the leaders were speaking, the European Central Bank (ECB) cut its interest rates back to their historic low of 1%, as expected by financial markets.

ECB President Mario Draghi called again for governments to cut their borrowing and reform their economies, but did not mention any new financial support from the ECB for struggling governments.

"We have a treaty that says no monetary financing to governments," he said in response to a question on the subject at a post-meeting news conference.

Crisis jargon buster
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Earlier, European Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso, who is also in Marseille, urged the EU to "do everything" to save the euro ahead of the Brussels summit.

"The entire world is watching. We must do everything" to save the euro, he said, adding: "It is extremely important that we all together, all the EU, show that the euro is irreversible."

Merkel-Sarkozy letter

Mrs Merkel and Mr Sarkozy are seeking to enforce budgetary discipline by changing the existing EU treaties.

"We are convinced that we need to act without delay," the two leaders wrote in a joint letter to European Council President Herman Van Rompuy, adding that the new treaty was needed by March.

The Merkel-Sarkozy letter also called for "a renewed contract between the euro area member states".

The German-French plan is based on the following key provisions:

  • the European Commission to have the power to impose penalties for nations that run excessive budget deficits
  • all 17 eurozone nations should amend their national legislation to require balanced budgets
  • the eurozone countries to have common corporation and financial transaction taxes
  • any future bailouts would not require private investors to absorb part of the costs, as happened in the Greece case

The BBC's Europe editor Gavin Hewitt, at the summit in Brussels, says he has been told it is likely that Mr Sarkozy and Mrs Merkel will sit down for brief talks with UK Prime Minister David Cameron, who is seen as the chief objector.

The UK has said it will veto the proposals unless they protect British interests. The French and German leaders will try to establish where the UK's red lines lie, our editor says.

Mr Van Rompuy is offering an alternative plan, a fast-track "fiscal compact" that does not need lengthy ratification by parliaments or national referendums.

The 10 non-eurozone members of the 27-member EU, including the UK, are concerned they may become isolated if the eurozone nations - driven by Berlin and Paris - decide to move to a new treaty on their own.

However, smaller nations in the EU are concerned that majority voting on a new EU bailout fund would give too much power to France and Germany.

A Finnish governmental advisory committee has said 85% majority voting - as the Franco-German proposal outlines - would be "unconstitutional".


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  • rate this

    Comment number 191.

    Why is Sarkoszy trying to make people feel frightened? I am sick of the word "globalisation" it is just another con. Small is beautiful and easier to manage. The European problem is France and Germany's mess and they can clear it up. Come on Britain we can stand on our own two feet. Don't let the European bullies scare you.

  • rate this

    Comment number 190.

    Politicians rule by fear . Whether it be financial Armageddon , the threat of terrorists , global warming - they use these things to "rule" us as they think they know best.However history tells us that the "common man" overcomes all these problems when faced with the inevitable and the politicians are shown to have known nothing

  • rate this

    Comment number 189.

    "Each euro country retained it's currency linked with an exchange rate to the euro."

    This is a painfully obvious solution which allows the Euro to compete with other internal currencies. The old currencies would only be abandoned when their usefullness to PEOPLE wained. This is a natural market in action - instead the Euro was forced on millions and for many it is innapropriate

  • rate this

    Comment number 188.

    1. What's the harm in being outside the eurozone?
    2. Presumably the budget penalties are for eurozone countries only. Tightening rules for eurozone countries is good.
    3. Private investors should absorb all of the cost of sovereign (or other) defaults/bankruptcies, not some or most! Taxpayer shouldn't absorb any. A MUST!

  • rate this

    Comment number 187.

    The Germans can call us all the names they like! (see176).

    It says more about German arrogance than anything else. Call us anything you like - in 2 World Wars Germany started, we beat the living daylights out of them - perhaps that's why they call us names?

    Meanwhile, we here are discussing the complete shambles Germany has made of the Eurozone.

  • rate this

    Comment number 186.

    Ah well, time to put the Aston away, open a bottle of Gordons, tuck in to best sausage & mash topped with HP sauce whilst watching the best of the BBC on my 42" Britosonic.

  • rate this

    Comment number 185.

    I wish it would disintegrate. If we weren't in Europe and never signed dozens of treaties we wouldn't have a country full of foreigners most people wish weren't here. I would happily have the living standards of a 19th century peasant (provided the NHS still existed) if we didn't have all these foreigners.

  • rate this

    Comment number 184.

    The tale of the Eurozone exactly matches the story yesterday about pay day loans. The problem with pay day loans is that the cost is punative, and those who use them because they have overspent their income end up in worse trouble. The concept of penalising countries whose spending is greater than their income will just make their situation worse.

  • rate this

    Comment number 183.

    If the EU disintegrated Germany would survive. Britain would suffer.
    Alarmist nonsense.

    I suppose you also believe that guff about 3m jobs being dependent on our staying in the EU? We are a trading nation and would continue to trade with Europe whether it is the EU, EEC, EFTA or nothing.

    It is time these EUphile lies were exposed and discredited for the rubbish they are.

  • rate this

    Comment number 182.

    Will any of the proposals (diktats) that have been put forward by Merkosy or Van Rompuy solve the current crisis?
    They sound to me to be about the future, but not about now.

  • rate this

    Comment number 181.

    So, the French are trying to make our demands look selfish. The reality is, they are being selfish, as they want all of Europe to bow to them and Germany. The fact is, the Eurozone is going to end. This is likely to lead to the collapse of the EU, so all the countries of Europe will be free again. France and Germany can have their relationship, but the rest of Europe will be able to grow.

  • rate this

    Comment number 180.

    FREE THE EU 1.

  • rate this

    Comment number 179.

    I am not Anti Europe by any means, however Europe and the Euro will never work as national interest will always come first.

    This is a problemas all European countries will now be at the mercy of Super states like America, Russia and China.

    Sadly despite our numerous connections with Europe we are now too strongly tied to the English speaking world to ever be real Europeans.

  • rate this

    Comment number 178.

    Won't happen. Too much prophecy riding on it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 177.

    Does he really mean disintegration? Yes please. Britain can go without the Europe bureaucrats, we can trade with the world, produce our own energy and buy oil from the Canadian oil sands, we can regenerate farming, control our own legal system, stand on our feet, We will need an impartial media, move over BBC, and a revamped democracy. Tough, yes. But for many of us it is tough now with no hope.

  • rate this

    Comment number 176.

    That description of the UK mindset the Germans use when describing insular UK attitudes always springs to mind. Monkey Islanders, insulting?Yes. Accurate? Definitely.

    I doubt whether many of us clearly understand what's happening in this dilemma. I certainly don't other than knowing we're already in a very deep hole & will be for a few years yet. Better not worsen it for ourselves is the wisest.

  • rate this

    Comment number 175.

    Euro and EZ are in crisis with pitifully little time to get a fix. This is a problem well beyond the scope of politicians to solve, With the best will in the world, I cannot see any lasting "fix", unless DC has a magic wand hidden up his sleeve, or a "Get out of Europe Free" card! Yes, Dave play the card now, and watch the market confidence in the pound grow rapidly.

  • rate this

    Comment number 174.

    let the EU faild good things happen to good people

  • rate this

    Comment number 173.

    With all the to do nobody noticed that the fat lady has already sang forth.

  • rate this

    Comment number 172.


    You've really been brainwashed, haven't you?


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