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French President Calls for EU Industrial Policy; Confirms Summit at Airbus


French president Nicolas Sarkozy called for a "genuine European industrial policy" covering areas like energy and defence, in order to establish "reciprocity" in trade with other economic powers like the US and China.

"We must develop an industrial policy with the same freedom of interpretation as used by our American, Chinese, Indian or Brazilian friends," he said in a speech yesterday at the Paris Air Show. The French president cited the rescue deal he brokered for Alstom as finance minister in 2004, under which the French government invested 800 mln eur in the crisis-hit group in order to secure financing from banks.

"Naivety is over, reciprocity has started," Sarkozy declared, arguing that other countries "can't go on imposing social, environmental, fiscal and monetary dumping" on Europe.

"I ask that we do with the euro with the US does with the dollar or even what our English friends do with the pound," he added.

During the French presidential campaign, Sarkozy heavily criticised the European Central Bank for focusing exclusively on inflation and not addressing exchange rates or economic growth.

The French president also called for the creation of a "European scientific foundation" that would allocate research funds in order to support innovation.

Concerning France, he repeated his pledge to increase public spending on research by a quarter, with a greater focus on individual projects.

While waiting for a venture capital fund to emerge on the Paris bourse, he said the immediate priority was to re-direct state-owned investment bank Caisse des Depots "towards intervening directly" in companies.

Regarding EADS, Sarkozy confirmed that next month's Franco-German summit will be held at the headquarters of Airbus in Toulouse, south-west France.

He also announced that he has invited EADS' core private-sector shareholders, Lagardere SCA and DaimlerChrysler AG, to join him and German chancellor Angela Merkel at the meeting, which will take place on July 16.

"EADS must become a normal company," he said in reference to the company's dual governance system.

Separately, the French president called for an "overhaul" of France's military spending, arguing this needs to be organised according to "a hierarchy of capacity needs" rather than "a catalogue of equipment".

He also argued for a rationalisation of European military programmes in order to eliminate duplication.