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Saturday 28 January 2023 Dublin: 6°C
Nicolas Sarkozy said merely amending a protocol would not be enough to end the European debt crisis.
# Debt Crisis
Kenny and Sarkozy underline differences ahead of crunch EU summit
Speaking at an EPP congress in Marseille, Kenny wants Europe to use the treaty it has – and Sarkozy demands a new one.

THE GULF IN OPINIONS between the European Union’s heads of government was underlined today, as a congress of the European Parliament’s largest party underlined tensions ahead of tonight’s summit in Brussels.

Speaking at the European People’s Party congress in Marseille, French president Nicolas Sarkozy said it had been a mistake to allow the creation of the euro without a common fiscal government – and that this was “a luxury we can no longer afford”.

The president also insisted that ending the debt crisis required “solidarity”, “discipline” and “governance” – and said it was vital that leaders compromise and strike a deal “right away”.

The more we wait to come up with a decision, the more costly and the less relevant it will be.

Of course, each of us has our own convictions, views, requests… we all have our problems. There is no country where the political situation is easy - [but] if we don’t find an agreement, by tomorrow, there is no second change.

Enda Kenny, speaking less than an hour later, agreed that leaders must make “decisive and clear decisions now”, but appeared to close the door on the negotiation of a new treaty.

I hope that political leaders [... can show] that the treaties that the people of the European Union voted for, actually do work if they’re implemented, in full with co-operation from every country.

This came in direct contrast to Sarkozy’s remark:

Chancellor Merkel and myself wish to have a reform of treaties, because how can you tell people the situation is terrible, and simply also explain that we will get out of the crisis by signing a very small protocol?

Sarkozy had also underlined the importance of the prior agreement between France and Germany on a common negotiating stance, saying the countries had “more duties than other countries” and that agreement between all 27 member states would require agreement between Paris and Berlin in the first place.

“At the end of convergence, there is peace and success for Europe as a whole,” the president said. “At the end of divergence between France and Germany there is failure, and clashes, for the whole of Europe.”

While agreement between the two countries provided both Sarkozy and German chancellor Angela Merkel with domestic political challenges, “those problems are nothing in comparison to the risk that disagreement between our two countries would mean for the rest of Europe”.

Nobody should be amazed or upset that there is an agreement between France and Germany – it is a duty between our two countries. There is no other option.

He concluded by observing that the European Union was “probably the most beautiful human construction ever imagined” – and that the union was now at “a turning point that could jeopardise its very existence”.

Read: EU leaders head to Brussels for make-or-break euro summit

Column: Ireland’s future lies in Europe, and that means closer co-operation