Tuesday, July 1, 2008
As if the slap from Poland's president were not enough, Sarko took another claque on his first day as EU president from EU trade czar Peter Mandelson--an old enemy. Mandelson took issue with Sarkozy's remarks on Monday about not standing for the agreement on agricultural trade that Mandelson is in the process of negotiating. He accused Sarko of playing fast and loose with the facts and resorting to cheap demagoguery. The charges are not altogether false, but the issues are complex and do not lend themselves to civilized discussion by way of dueling sound bites. One wants to take these two by the scruff of the neck and say, "Take it inside, gentlemen." Sit down across the table and work things out. Quietly. In private. Then announce Europe's policy.
If Nicolas Sarkozy hoped to use the French EU presidency as a test of his mettle, his wish has been granted on day one. Poland's Lech Kaczynski, whose recalcitrance during the Lisbon Treaty negotiations previously allowed Sarko to demonstrate his negotiating skills, said today that he would refuse to sign the treaty that he himself had negotiated along with his brother the then prime minister in a late-night bargaining session orchestrated by Sarkozy, who, freshly elected at the time, still had le vent en poupe. Now Kaczynski feels emboldened by a new wind from the west--Ireland, despite the fact that his brother has in the mean time been voted out of office. Whether or not he has the authority to impede ratification, he has made a play to delay the process in the hope that the treaty will simply collapse because of the Irish vote. Sarko-watchers await his reaction to this challenge.