Sarkozy vague on Barroso's EU future
French President Nicolas Sarkozy has recommended waiting until Ireland votes on the Lisbon Treaty for a second time before endorsing a candidate to succeed José Manuel Barroso as next president of the European Commission.
Speaking at the conclusion of an extraordinary EU summit on Sunday (1 March), Sarkozy declined to give unreserved support for the former Portuguese prime minister.
"Regarding the different candidacies, as you know we are subject to the decision of our Irish friends for the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty and depending on that, we will ask ourselves the question," he said.
A second Irish referendum on the Lisbon Treaty is expected to take place in October, despite earlier suggestions that the vote could be rescheduled to coincide with the June European elections (EurActiv 13/02/09).
Sarkozy insisted that it would be unwise to choose an earlier date. "I think if we want to be a little clever, we should better wait for the Irish to vote [before appointing a new Commission president] rather than deciding before they vote."
The French president suggested that there would be a popular backlash against detached European elites if a candidate were to be chosen beforehand. "If we want to have everyone going against us, then let us [name the new Commission president before the Irish vote]."
Sarkozy then reiterated his personal liking for Barroso. "You know I like Mr Barroso lot, I have enjoyed working with him [during the French Presidency], I have trust in him and I have trust in the Commission. There you go. That way, it is clear."