France Unveils Post-EU Presidency ‘New World’ Summit Despite Czech Presidency

EU Observer
19.11.2008
PHILIPPA RUNNER

France wants post-EU presidency financial summit

EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - France has unveiled plans for a post-French EU presidency financial summit, despite the Czech Republic’s sensitivity over its upcoming chairmanship of the EU.

The Elysee Palace on Tuesday (18 November) formally announced an “international summit” to be held in Paris on 8 January, entitled “New World: Values, Development and Regulation,” continuing France’s ambition to create a “new model” for capitalism in the wake of the global financial crisis.

The meeting is to bring together international leaders as well as intellectuals such as economist Joseph Stiglitz and philosopher Francis Fukuyama and will be co-chaired by French President Nicolas Sarkozy and former British PM Tony Blair.

The move comes after a G20 summit in Washington last weekend fell short of EU hopes to tighten global financial regulation.

The new Paris meeting is the latest in a long line of high-powered events organised by France since it took over the EU helm in July. An EU presidency normally hosts two EU summits, but Mr Sarkozy has already added one extraordinary Georgia war summit, one special financial crisis summit, a eurozone summit and a G4 financial summit.

French officials in October proposed that the eurozone should form an “economic government” led by Mr Sarkozy after the French EU presidency expires in December in order to maintain the “impetus, the energy” of the Elysee Palace’s efforts.

Mr Sarkozy and Mr Blair have also been floated as candidates for the Lisbon treaty-envisaged job of permanent EU president.

But the Czech Republic has resented any suggestions that a small, new EU state cannot lead the bloc in times of crisis.

Prague has also rejected MEPs’ accusations that it will be a lame duck presidency because it is split over ratification of the Lisbon treaty and because the ruling ODS party suffered defeats in local elections last month.

“Nobody can take the presidency away from the Czech Republic,” Czech deputy prime minister Alexandr Vondra said in October on the eurozone government idea.

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