Sarkozy Muscles in on EU Reform

It's just under a fortnight until France takes over the six-month rotating presidency of the European Union and already the rest of Europe is getting a taste of what it can expect.

At a meeting of EU leaders in Brussels on Thursday, Sarkozy said the Union would not be able to go ahead with any further expansion without ratification of the Lisbon treaty.

And guess what? He's right - but that isn't the immediate issue at hand.

Sarkozy is a somewhat lukewarm supporter of further expansion of the EU - especially if it were to include Turkey - has in his usual way managed to make the current controversy over the Irish rejection of "his" Lisbon treaty even more muddled.

He has linked institutional reform, which just about everyone agrees is outdated for the enlarged Union of 27, with further expansion saying there cannot be one without the other.

While that might be very true the real issue at the moment is how to deal with the problems that exist now rather than those further down the line.

A VERY quick potted history of recent events without breaking into Eurobabble - never very easy:

Ever since the EU took in 10 new members in May 2004 and then another two at the beginning of 2007 it has been chugging along like the proverbial ship without a rudder haplessly trying to make decisions with a voting system made for 15 countries but with 27 in mind.

Gridlock seemed to be inevitable especially if any real progress in joint foreign, defence and judicial policy were to be agreed and a former French president, Val

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Johnny Summerton is a Paris-based broadcaster, writer and journalist specialising in politics, sport and travel. For more on what's making the headlines here in France, log on to his site at

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