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European Council

Published on March 30, 2010
Press conference given by Nicolas Sarkozy, President of the Republic (excerpts)

Brussels, March 26, 2010

(…)

CAP

Q. – You said on Wednesday that you were ready to have a crisis to defend the Common Agricultural Policy. Did you tell your European Union partners this today, or yesterday, and what was their reaction?

THE PRESIDENT – Listen, the texts being circulated showed that in the 2020 Strategy the word “agriculture” doesn’t even appear. I nevertheless remind you that for five decades, the Commission has been implementing Europe’s first common policy, the CAP. I remind you that Europe is the world’s second-largest agricultural exporter. I pointed out that Europe exports €30 billion more agricultural than aerospace products and that I couldn’t imagine us having a 2020 development strategy which ignores agriculture, a component of Europe’s economic power.

I said this to President Barroso, whom I spoke to on the phone on Tuesday, and was pleased to see that the Council conclusions were putting agriculture back as a key component of Europe’s economic future. I welcome this. Moreover, no one commented on it. In fact one country was surprised but I made it clear that we wouldn’t accept any amendment on the subject, so we were completely satisfied.

Remember, so things are clear, we’re not talking about Agenda 2013 with the modification of the Common Agricultural Policy. There are problems in other areas as well: the speculation which has seized control of agricultural markets, which have become totally erratic with price falls which consumers don’t benefit from and are killing producers.

You have to agree that’s outrageous. So it’s a subject we’ll have the opportunity of talking about again, including at the G20. Lastly, let me remind you that we export €80 billion of agricultural products and import €110 billion. We’ve got a European agricultural trade deficit of €30 billion. Many other countries supported me, pointing out that agriculture was a component of Europe’s economic power and that, of course, it was part of our strategy for the future. (…)

STABILITY PACT

Q. – The German Chancellor wants to strengthen the Stability Pact, and for this reason she wishes to change or modify the Lisbon Treaty again. Do you think such a reform is politically feasible and desirable?

THE PRESIDENT – The Chancellor and I talked at length about this. We have the same position. We think that given the current state of health of our system, now isn’t the time to call a spade a spade. As I said yesterday, sorry to repeat myself: a country runs up an excessive deficit and then gets fined. That won’t improve the situation. We’re totally ready to think about this. We didn’t use the words “treaty modification” on purpose. Since, as you know, there has to unanimity to modify a treaty. Not everyone agrees. We’ve set up the working group. We aren’t ruling out any possibility and, with the Chancellor, Germany and France will make proposals on the matter. It’s a real problem. We’re going to make these proposals. We’ve got until the end of the year to think about it and work on it. That’s the compromise which was found. (…)./.

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